By Daniel Downey | Politico
Back in 1980, a former ventriloquist and car salesman named Dennis Hope was out of work, going through a divorce and struggling to make ends meet. As he tells it, he was driving along wondering what he could do for cash flow when he looked through the car window, saw the moon and thought: “Now there’s a lot of property.”
Hope did some research in a college library and discovered the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, a pact in which dozens of nations, including the United States, laid out the basic legal guidelines for dealing with celestial bodies. Hope thought he saw a loophole: The treaty declares that no nation can assert sovereignty over the moon, but it fails to say clearly that individuals can’t.
So Hope sent a note to the United Nations, laying claim to the moon as well as the other planets and moons in the solar system, and went to work. In the years since, Hope has made a tidy fortune selling deeds to plots on the moon and other celestial bodies; he estimates around $12 million so far. A typical moon acre costs $24.99. The whole of Pluto is going for $250,000 — a good deal, but a tough commute.
“The laws relating to ownership in outer space were drafted when space travel was just a science fiction movie theme. As the prospect of exploration and even potential occupation becomes more real these laws need some serious refinement. The question is how, in a world that can’t agree on much, can good multi-national laws be created?”