Jon de Vos/: The final frontier
Grand County, CO Colorado
Ever since Columbus hoisted the Spanish Flag in the West Indies, America – bound by the Pacific Ocean on the left and the Atlantic on the right – has been running out of space. Unless we invade Canada or pick up Mexico in a garage sale, we’re blocked to the north and south as well.
Realtors use this fact to sell land, “They aren’t making any more,” they’ll say matter-of-factly, trying to get a tire kicker off dead center. Well, some see obstacles where others see opportunity.
To date, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty has been signed by more than 125 countries, including the US, Russia and the UK. The treaty governs the general conduct of nations in space. Among other things, it sensibly bans WMD’s, restricts the moon to peaceful purposes and forbids any government from claiming outer-space land or resources, arrogantly proclaiming them, “The Common Heritage of Mankind.” Martians take heed.
In 1980, Dennis Hope noticed that the treaty neglected to mention individual ownership. In a San Francisco court, he established the Lunar Embassy and filed a mining claim for the earth’s moon, all eight planets and their moons to boot. Before the ink was dry, Hope was selling lots with a money-back guarantee of a 24/7 earth view. He proudly points to the fact that Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter bought estate lots from him. Rumors persist that Reagan vacationed there frequently during the last few years of his presidency.
Lest you scoff at Hope’s hopes, be aware that his counterpart at the Canadian Lunar Embassy is currently in a Saskatchewan jail trying to explain a missing $41 million.
Today you can buy a full acre of prime American lunar real estate for a mere $36.50 including shipping, handling, tax and three documents on simulated parchment paper, one being a map with an arrow pointing upward in case you cannot find your property. Further, all the details of your purchase are recorded in the Embassy’s Computerized Registry of Extraterrestrial Property Owners. We’re assured the list is completely confidential, so how could you go wrong?
Well, what if Hope doesn’t really own it? Martin Juergens claims his family has owned the earth’s satellite since July 15, 1756, when the entire moon was given to his ancestor, Aul Juergens, by Prussian Emperor Frederick the Great. Juergens has written Hope a cease-and-desist letter, in “diplomatic, but firm tones.”
Not to be outdone, several groups are selling land on Mars. Space Pioneers, LLC began selling one acre parcels of red Martian soil for $39.94 which includes shipping and handling. Searching for legitimacy, Space Pioneers has forged a partnership with the Kiwanis organization, donating 10 percent of their profit to fight worldwide iodine deficiencies.
They also tried to donate another 10 percent to NASA, but the space agency quietly declined. Talk about a land value. Space Pioneers sends you an educational photo book, a mug with a picture of a space shuttle that disappears when you add hot water, a logo lapel pin, an outer space theme poster, a collector’s cap, colonization certificate, a copy of the multilateral 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 2,000 acres of good, red Martian soil for about the same price as Space Pioneer’s one acre parcels. Hope says he has sold more than 17,000 properties on the moon and more than 4,000 on Mars. Astonished to learn of Space Pioneers, Hope commented, “Jesus! These people just crawl out of the woodwork!”
Hope refuses to sell the Jupiter moon, Europa in deference to Arthur C. Clarke’s film, 2010. In the movie, aliens beamed a message to earth that, “All these worlds are yours to study, except Europa. Attempt no landing there. Use them together, use them in peace.”
Reagan’s gone, but maybe Jimmy Carter’s out there building houses somewhere.
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