Sept. 8, 2000 -- Sure, it’s far from most amenities, like shopping, schools and the beach. And the commute would be a killer.
But boy, what a view.
One of the last frontiers of real estate, the moon, can be had for a song, thanks to an American entrepreneur who has laid claim to all lunar territories (as well as eight planets).
Dennis Hope, of Rio Vista, Calif., operates the Lunar Embassy as a land speculator for off-world real estate. Hope has granted rights to sell bits of the moon to the Internet site MoonEstates.com, a British real estate agency. The price: £10, or $14, an acre.
“The whole concept of owning a piece of the moon is such a cool one,” said Francis Williams, a founder of MoonEstates.com.
“The moon represents huge potential,” he added.
MoonEstates.com says there are presently 300,000 Earthbound owners of lunar land, some of the more illustrious being former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, and some cast members of Star Trek.
A Homesteader Far From Home
The Outer Space Treaty, signed by the United Nations in 1967, bans any nation from laying claim to the moon. But the treaty does not say individuals cannot own lunar land. That opened the door for Hope, who laid claim to the entire land surface of the moon 20 years ago, under the Homestead Act of 1862.
Hope notified the governments of the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union, as well as the United Nations General Assembly. They did not object or officially dismiss his claim, and so the celestial squatter proceeded to sell acreage of off-world properties.
Hope formed the Lunar Embassy and drew up a “bill of rights” for the moon.
“You have the right to be guided by your heart … To seek human dignity and honor … To pursue happiness, freedom of speech, religion and property management,” it says.
Clients receive a deed and map of their holdings, which they can view with a reasonably good telescope.
There are city-sized parcels available (“for a limited time only”) for those seeking to rule their own domain, as well as adjacent mineral rights. The first lunar city, Lunafornia, has already been founded. Further cities, out of deference to colonies mentioned in the film Star Trek: First Contact, will be called Tycho-City and New-Berlin.
The Lunar Embassy has set aside several designated Lunar Reserve Areas (such as the Apollo and Soviet mission landing sites), instituting a “National Park” program of environmental and historic preserve.
But what if you want to be really far from the neighbors? Hope also offers plots on Venus, Mars, Io and other heavenly bodies.
Who Exactly Owns the Moon?
The International Institute of Air and Space Law in the Netherlands acknowledges Hope’s claim on its Web site, in the article, “Who Owns the Moon?” It also points to a counterclaim made by a German pensioner, Martin Juergens, who says he has a proclamation from the 17th century Prussian King Frederick the Great bestowing the moon on one of his ancestors as a reward for services rendered.
The Institute warns, however, that “Neither of these claims could possibly be honored … you cannot give away what you do not possess yourself.”
The 1979 Moon Treaty, which would prohibit private ownership of the moon as well as government control and military use, has not been signed or ratified by most countries (including the United States).
Reuters contributed to this report.