Jon de Vos: I can see Russia from my house |

Jon de Vos: I can see Russia from my house

Of the 194 countries recognized by our state department, 125 of them, including Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, signed the United Nation’s 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The treaty laid out codes of conduct for the final frontier. Among the basics, like clean up after yourself and no orbiting nukes, almost everyone agreed that outer space is off-limits to national appropriation. Uruguay can’t just claim Jupiter, for instance. Where one man sees limits, another seizes opportunity. In 1980, Dennis Hope of Rio Vista, California, realized that the treaty neglected to mention individuals and promptly registered a claim for the entire lunar surface. He sold his first home site in 1984 and proudly points to the fact that Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and most of the cast from Star Trek purchased view lots from him. Lunacy is apparently Dennis’ real estate niche.

What happens in Vegas may not stay there. Hope’s venture, Lunar Embassy, is a registered Nevada Corporation. The state attorney general admits their jurisdiction may not extend to the moon but so far no one has complained and Lunar Embassy stays in business. Dennis Hope, not unlike Rod Blagojevich, is selling lunar ambassadorships for $75,000.

On the other hand what happens in Vegas may stay there for three to five years. One of Hope’s loony, er, lunar investors, Lisa Fulkerson of Chatham, Ontario, was arrested in 2004 while selling hand lotion in a Vegas mall kiosk. Miss Fulkerson spent several lunar cycles staring at her property through prison bars after fraudulently relieving The Bank of Nova Scotia of $600,000 in her role as Hope’s lunar ambassador.

For a mere $18.95 you can get a choice lot in the Sea of Vapors. A better neighborhood in the Sea of Cold is $19.95 an acre, but for those whom only the best will do, $32.95 will bring you a one acre view lot in the glorious Bay of Rainbows. You not only get a deed for the property, you also get a map with an arrow pointing to your future front door, and, most important, a Certificate of Authenticity.

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

Lunacy isn’t confined to the moon. Space Pioneers, LLC, is selling one acre Martian parcels for $39.94, a bargain indeed when you consider it includes shipping and handling. Searching for legitimacy, Space Pioneers forged a partnership with the Kiwanis organization, donating 10 percent of their profit to fight world iodine deficiencies. They tried to donate another 10 percent to NASA, but the space agency quietly declined. Space Pioneers sends you an educational photo book, a mug bearing a space shuttle that disappears when you add hot water, a logo label pin, an outer space theme poster, a collector’s cap, a colonization certificate, a copy of the multi-lateral space treaty and a Certificate of Authenticity. How could you go wrong?

Well, you could pay too much. Dennis Hope’s Lunar Embassy began selling two thousand acres of good, red Martian soil for about the same price as Space Pioneer’s one acre parcels. Hope claims more than 2,500,000 satisfied lunar buyers with sales of Martian land topping 945,000 acres. Astonished to learn of Space Pioneers, Hope commented, “Jesus, you know these guys are just crawling out of the woodwork!”

Hope refuses to sell the Jupiter moon, Europa, in deference to Arthur C. Clarke’s film, 2010, where a terribly advanced alien race told us, “All these worlds are yours to study except Europa. Attempt no landing there.” In Robert Heinlein’s 1961 science fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land, the Federation High Court overwhelmingly ruled that the Moon was owned by those who colonized it.

I guess God’s not making any more Florida swampland.

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