Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Water find sparks a mad rush for lunar property

Want to buy land on the Moon? You think Bangalore's getting too congested? There's even an Indian who would like to sell 2,000 acres
at $4 an acre. He got it cheap, though on an average, lunar land costs $20 an acre. The discovery of water molecules on the Moon seems to have spurred a new interest in this property.

Bizarre? That's the kind of extra-terrestrial chat on the internet about buying land on the Moon, something US-headquartered Lunar Embassy claims it first initiated.

Whether that claim is true or not, the company has been selling and registering property on the Moon for the past 29 years. Its website tells you everything you need to know about the process, including why this venture is not a fraud.

It also claims it's the only company to possess a legal basis and copyright for the sale of lunar and other extra-terrestrial property in the solar system. The organisation claims it has over 3,470,072 members.

So, how did Lunar Embassy get the right to own, sell and register land on the Moon? A declaration of ownership was filed with the United Nations as well as the US and Russian governments 29 years ago by Dennis M Hope of the Lunar Embassy to ensure a legal basis for ownership of properties sold on the moon. No country has contested that claim or declaration.

Though the international Moon Treaty, finalised in 1979 and in force since 1984, forbids private ownership of extra-terrestrial real estate, as of January 1, 2008 only 13 states ratified the agreement and more importantly not a single country has legally contested Lunar Embassy's claims to ownership of Moon land. Thus, anyone who made the first claim before the UN becomes the first owner. Lunar Embassy says it made the first claim and so it is the rightful owner of lunar property.

There's another fact that Lunar Embassy is banking on. Although the Outer Space Treaty, which came into force in 1967 forbids countries from claiming celestial bodies, there apparently is no provision forbidding private individuals from doing so. In 1996, the company set up its website, the MoonShop, "the first Internet website ever to be selling properties on any extraterrestrial body".

Lunar land

Property -- Rate (in $)

Prime View Lunar Properties (1 acre), Deed with name printed -- 22.49

Prime View Lunar Properties (1 acre), Normal Deed -- 19.99

Register Your Name and Property in Lunar Embassy Registry Archive -- 15

Ethereal Net - Dial-Up Access Full Year Price -- 107

Extraterrestrial Domain Names -- 22

Lunar Explorer Virtual Moon Simulation and 1 Acre Lunar Land -- 49.95

Lunar Explorer Virtual Moon Simulation -- 29.95