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Q: Is It Possible to Own Property on the Moon?

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A: That depends on what your definition of is, is. According to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, countries can’t own lunar real estate. However, the Treaty doesn’t say anything about the rights of individuals to claim land.

Enter Dennis Hope, a California entrepreneur/ventriloquist who’s exploited the loophole to its fullest. In 1980, Hope announced his ownership of the moon (and, incidentally, the rest of the solar system) and promptly started selling off plots through his company, Lunar Embassy. Space-faring nations vehemently denied the legality of Hope’s business, pointing to the 1979 Moon Treaty, which forbids individual interstellar land investment. Finding yet another loophole, Hope countered by noting none of the space nations ever actually signed the treaty after the U.S. and Russia both refused.

But Moon Treaty or not, an individual can still only own land through the jurisdiction of his or her home country, and if nations can’t own it, then people can’t own land through them. Tenuous as his argument is, Hope has still managed to inspire some serious investors. To date, the Lunar Embassy has made more than $1.6 million. If you’re interested, plots go for as little as $30, but don’t spend all your money on moon land, mental_floss has some contacts with beautiful oceanfront lots in Arizona and we’d love to get you in on the ground floor.

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  • That’s one small tract of land, one giant deed for mankind.

  • dee

    This is capitalism at its worse. Where does it end? Shit like this reminds me of when they attempted to put advertisements on the bases in baseball when the entire freaking stadium is already covered with ads. Its getting out of control and think it is a terrible idea. Do corporations have to own / have a piece of everything? Disgusting, no one should “own” the moon. The moon is for everybody.

  • I’m really just jealous because I didn’t think of it first.

  • Robert Heinlein covered this in his 1951 novella “The Man Who Sold the Moon”.

  • If we ever advance far enough to be able to terraform our moon, it will be the governments/corporations/individuals who are willing to risk investing in that enterprise who will de facto “own” property on Luna…

  • ummm..terraforming Luna is just not possible RJ…

    not enough gravity to hold an atmosphere for one thing, and there’ the whole water problem

    now, sealed caverns, pulverize lunar dust, seed it with rich topsoin and add worms…

    then you could keep colonies going self sufficiently after a huge initial investment…

    but terraforming is right out cuz physics apply

    just keeping things straight…

    and yep, El bicho has part of it, for colonization bit, as well as one of the finest political books ever (imo) try “the Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Heinlein as well