Friday Report: The sky’s the limit |

Friday Report: The sky’s the limit

Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

Or is it?

The United Nation’s 1967 Outer Space Treaty was signed by 125 nations, including Russia, Britain and the United States. It sets a code of conduct as we fan out into the final frontier. The rules are simple: no orbiting nukes, clean up after yourself and outer space is off-limits to national appropriation.

One man sees limits where another seizes opportunity. Such a man is Dennis Hope who spotted an opportunity in the treaty that banned national claims but made no mention of individual ownership. Dennis promptly claimed the entire lunar surface and started selling moon lots in 1984. Call him crazy (lunatic) but he’s made more than $11 million in extraterrestrial subdivision sales, all without worrying about water, building permits or pouring a single inch of sidewalk.

What happens in Vegas sometimes doesn’t stay there. Hope’s venture, Lunar Embassy, is a Nevada Corporation. The state admits its jurisdiction may not reach all the way to the moon but no one has ever complained, so Lunar Embassy stays in business. Emboldened by that fact, Hope claimed Mars, Venus, Mercury and Io, one of Jupiter’s moons as well.

It’s not all about the money. Hope refuses to sell even a square inch of Europa, another Jupiter moon. Europa’s boycott is a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, 2010, where a terribly advanced alien race beamed this message to earth: “All these worlds are yours to study except Europa. Attempt no landing there.”

Dennis sells ambassadorships for $60,000. Each new ambassador gets a blue blazer and a license to sell stellar lots with commissions flowing back upward to Dennis. Crazy like a fox.

What happens in Vegas may actually stay there for three to five years. Lisa Fulkerson swindled the Bank of Nova Scotia out of $600,000 in her role as Hope’s lunar ambassador. At least she could see her property every night through prison bars.

For $19.95 you can get the nicest lot in the universe. It’s yours, along with a deed and a map with a red arrow pointing to your future front door and, certainly not least, an Official Certificate of Authenticity. What could go wrong?

Well, what if Hope doesn’t really own it? Martin Juergens claims his family has owned the moon since 1756, when Frederick the Great gave it to Marty’s great-great grandfather.

In 1992, Space Pioneers LLC filed a claim in Indianapolis for the moon, the planets and all the natural satellites in the Milky Way Galaxy. They partnered with Kiwanis, donating 10 percent of their profit to fight iodine deficiencies. They tried to donate another 10 percent to NASA, but the space agency quietly declined. With your Space Pioneers’ view lot, you get an educational photo book, a mug with a space shuttle that disappears when you add hot water, a logo pin, an outer-space theme poster, one space hat, a colonization certificate, a copy of the multi-lateral space treaty and an Official Certificate of Authenticity. How could you go wrong?

Well, you could pay too much. Dennis Hope’s Lunar Embassy sells 2,000 acres of good, red Martian soil for about the same price as Space Pioneer’s 1-acre parcels. Hope claims more than 2.5 million lunar buyers with sales of Martian land topping 945,000 customers.

Upon learning of Space Pioneers, Hope commented, “Jesus, you know these guys are just crawling out of the woodwork!”

Caveat Emptor!

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