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Author Topic: Extraterrestrial Real Estate – Buy Land On The Moon?  (Read 2557 times)

Jay Sadie

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Extraterrestrial Real Estate – Buy Land On The Moon?
« on: November 23, 2011, 02:11:27 AM »

Extraterrestrial real estate is land on other planets or natural satellites or parts of space that is sold either through organizations or by individuals. Ownership of extraterrestrial real estate is not recognised by any authority. Nevertheless, some private individuals and organizations have claimed ownership of celestial bodies, such as the Moon, and are actively involved in "selling" parts of them through certificates of ownership termed "Lunar deeds", "Martian deeds" or similar. These "deeds" have no legal standing.

Question: Are the lunar plots being sold a legal deal or is it just another scam on the Internet? Can you really buy land on the moon?

Answer: First, let me explain the "opportunity" to those who have never heard about the sale of land on the moon.

Lunar Embassy
Lunar Embassy
A company called Lunar Embassy, which describes itself as "the founders and leaders of the extraterrestrial real estate market," claims to have been in the business of selling Lunar Property for over 25 years to over 3.4 million customers. There are other companies selling land on the moon as well, but it seems that Lunar Embassy is the first and biggest.

According to the Lunar Embassy website, you can buy one acre of "prime real estate" on the moon -- with great Earth views -- for just $19.95.

Lunar Embassy has also created "The Century Club" for "1000 lucky participants" who get 1777.58 acres of celestial land and other "benefits" for a mere $1000 US dollars.

Chinese authorities have shut down this scheme in China on charges of "profiteering and lunacy." (Doubt this pun was intended.)

Lunar Embassy is also selling extraterrestrial domains: For example, you can reserve your .ln, .le, .moon or .mars domain name now. :)

So, is this for real or a scam? According to the Lunar Embassy website, their legal basis for ownership is that "one can become the legal owner of an extraterrestrial body, if you are the first one who claimed it, and that is the Lunar Embassy."

Although I personally believe that these deeds have no legal standing, maybe you should decide for yourself. ::)

Other companies that sell land on the moon:
[table cellpadding=2][tr]
[td]
Lunar Land
Lunar Land
[/td]
[td]
Lunar Registry
Lunar Registry
[/td]
[td]
Moon Estates
Moon Estates
[/td]
[td]
Moon Shop
Moon Shop
[/td]
[/tr][/table]

History

The topic of real estate on celestial objects has been present since the 1890s. Coming in and out of public focus for several decades, major notability was established for the idea in 1936. A. Dean Lindsay made claims for all extraterrestrial objects on June 15, 1936 and sent a letter to Pittsburgh Notary Public along with a deed and money for establishment of the property. The public sent offers to buy objects from him as well.

Legal issues

The United Nations 1967 publication "Outer Space Treaty" states space is the "province of all mankind", and is not subject to claims on sovereignty by States. As treaties apply to States and place obligations on States, and since the Space Treaties were drafted at a time when, realistically, the only "people" going into space were States, none of the space treaties make reference to private parties. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 has currently been ratified by 98 states, including all the major space-faring nations.

The international Moon Treaty, finalised in 1979 and entering into force in 1984, forbids private ownership of extraterrestrial real estate. However, as of January 1, 2008 only 13 states have ratified the agreement, and none of these are major space-faring nations. Kazakhstan has ratified the treaty and is host to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, the facility is operated through a leasing agreement by Russia. India has also signed the treaty and they now have space missions.

Private purchase schemes

A number of individuals and organisations offer schemes or plans claiming to allow people to purchase portions of the Moon or other celestial bodies. Though the details of some of the schemes' legal arguments vary, one goes so far as to state that although the Outer Space Treaty, which entered force in 1967, forbids countries from claiming celestial bodies, there is no such provision forbidding private individuals from doing so.

Many states and countries have corollaries to their real estate and property laws to prevent wanton claiming of new-found lands, that state that a simple claim to the territory is not enough; the claimant must also demonstrate "intent to occupy," something that, at this time, is obviously difficult to do with the Moon or any other celestial body.

Considering these facts, legally, the schemes' "deeds" have only symbolic or novelty value and no official governing body in the world has yet granted any legal validity to them.

The short story The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein, which was written in 1949, offers a portrayal regarding such plans or schemes, and created the concept of a Lunar Republic. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land also makes reference to a space law case called the Larkin Decision.

Ownership of empty space

Ownership of empty space can be thought of as a different issue from that of land ownership on extraterrestrial bodies, because of its emptiness, the difficulty of defining its bounds, and the difficulty of keeping anything within it. The United Nations "Outer Space Treaty" reserves space for the good of mankind, and effectively prohibits private ownership of arbitrary parcels of empty space, although governments which have not signed the relevant treaties may dispute the U.N.'s authority in this matter.

A space ownership issue of current practical importance is the allocation of slots for satellites in geostationary orbit. This is managed by the International Telecommunication Union. The 1976 Declaration of the First Meeting of Equatorial Countries, also known as the Bogotá Declaration, signed by several countries located on the Earth's equator, attempted to assert sovereignty over those portions of the geosynchronous orbit that continuously lie over the signatory nation's territory. These claims did not receive international support or recognition and were subsequently largely abandoned.

Notable claims

Martin Juergens from Germany claims that the Moon has belonged to his family since July 15, 1756, when the Prussian emperor Frederick the Great presented it to his ancestor Aul Juergens as a symbolic gesture of gratitude for services rendered, and decreed that it should pass to the youngest born son.

A. Dean Lindsay made claims for all extraterrestrial objects on June 15, 1936 and sent a letter to Pittsburgh Notary Public along with a deed and money for establishment of the property. The public sent offers to buy objects from him as well.

James T. Mangan (1896–1970) was a famous eccentric, public relations man and best-selling author on self-help topics who publicly claimed ownership of outer space in 1948. Mangan founded what he called the Nation of Celestial Space and registered it with the Recorder of Deeds and Titles of Cook County, Illinois, on January 1, 1949.

Robert R. Coles, former chairman of New York's Hayden Planetarium, started "the interplanetary Development Corporation" and sold lots on the moon for one dollar per acre.

Dennis Hope, an American entrepreneur, sells extraterrestrial real estate. In 1980, he started his own business, the Lunar Embassy Commission. As of 2009 Hope claimed to have sold 2.5M 1-acre plots on the Moon, for around US$20 per acre. He allocates land to be sold by closing his eyes and randomly pointing to a map of the Moon.

Adam Ismail, Mustafa Khalil and Abdullah al-Umari, three men from Yemen, sued NASA for invading Mars. They claim that they "inherited the planet from our ancestors 3,000 years ago". They based their argument on mythologies of the Himyaritic and Sabaean civilizations that existed several thousand years B.C.E.

Gregory W. Nemitz claimed ownership of Asteroid 433 Eros, on which NEAR Shoemaker landed in 2001. His company Orbital Development issued NASA a parking ticket for $20.

After purchasing the Lunokhod 2 lunar lander, computer game designer and astronaut's son Richard Garriot jokingly claimed the rest of the Moon in the name of his gaming character, Lord British, under the premise that existing treaties prohibit governments from territorial claims to the Moon, but not individuals.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 02:52:09 AM by Jay Sadie »
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