Moonscape: Selling unreal estateMoonscape: Selling unreal estateDavid JonesJones, D.

Lunar real estate pictureTalk about out-of-this-world real estate. Would you believe millions of earthlings have bought land on the moon?

According to the Lunar Embassy, more than 400 million acres of the moon have been sold worldwide. Among the buyers are former U.S. presidents and movie stars (think “Star Trek.")

The Lunar Embassy is the brainchild of Dennis Hope, who in 1980 claimed ownership of the moon and other planets in our solar system. Hope bases his claim on what the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty does not say. While the treaty stipulates no government can own extraterrestrial property, it does not prohibit individuals and corporations from doing so.

“Therefore, under laws dating back from early U.S. settlers," proclaims the Lunar Embassy website, “it was possible to stake a claim for land and register it with the U.S. government office of claim registries." Hope, better known as the “head cheese," says his confidential list of lunar buyers includes celebrities, companies buying gifts for clients, investors, professionals, space hobbyists, and NASA employees.

One acre of moon property from Lunar Embassy is $24.99. Five acres will run you $124.95.For those needing more “space," Lunar Embassy has properties on Mars, Mercury, and Venus.

But Hope isn't the only one claiming title to the moon and selling parcels to would-be moonies. Lunarland.com has a standard package that includes one acre for $29.95. For another $10, they will put your name on the deed. A 20-acre purchase for $249.99 adds a framed map marking the exact location of the moon site by lunar quadrant, lunar lot number, and lunar latitude and longitude. But, wait; there's more. The package includes a 12-milligram (0.000423 ounce) piece of moon rock. The lunarland.com website shows the current locations already sold. Of course, it's of the lighted side of the moon only.

In February, SpaceX announced it will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018. In a news release, the company said the passengers have made a “significant deposit" for the cost of the mission. Whether they own moon property or are “just looking" was not revealed.

Buyers of moon properties don't have to worry that they are being ripped off by being stuck with swampland. There is plenty of beach there, just no water.

Who really owns the moon? Geneva, Ohio, residents say they do. They claimed the moon as their own back in 1966. Thirty-five Geneva residents signed the “Declaration of Lunar Ownership" 50 years ago and unveiled it to the world at the high school auditorium. The city also claimed the right to rent or lease its moon holdings should two-thirds of the population approve. They were considering the sale of 100 deeds for 100 acres for $100 per acre.

Meanwhile, in an effort to bring the planetary land rush down to earth, Virgiliu Popa, Romanian space lawyer, notes that claims on celestial bodies have been going on for a long time. He writes that behind all the fun people have with moon “ownership," there's a serious element to the debate.

NASA and private companies are poised to play major roles in space colonization. Russia and China also have landed rovers on the moon. China plans to reach Mars by 2020 and eventually build a moon base. The European Space Agency says the peaceful exploration of space requires international collaboration.

Members of the International Institute of Space Law, the International Astronautical Federation, and others see the need for serious discussions on extraterrestrial property rights.

Once the colonization of the moon and planets begins, this will no longer be a laughing matter. Should oil be discovered on lunar land, you can bet more Texans will be donning space suits to walk in the steps of Alan Bean of Wheeler, Texas, and the fourth person to set foot on the ​moon.


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