Who Really Owns The Moon?
Let's face the facts.
We receive inquiries occasionally from people who wonder
how we can "sell the Moon" when
someone else actually owns it. Often, people incorrectly believe
that these ownership claims are true simply because they saw a report on
television about a person or business selling Lunar property.
honest: do you seriously believe that one man owns every planet in
the Solar System?
These claims are, sadly, false. No single person
owns the Moon, regardless of whether that person sent a letter to the
President of the United States or the Secretary-General of the United
Nations. And just because
the U.S. or U.N. never responded to this person's letter, that
does not mean that he automatically became the owner of the Moon and the
other planets. Check with any attorney and they'll confirm for you that
isn't the way the law works in any country on Earth.
In fact, Dennis Hope of the Lunar Embassy has
a fictional tale in which a vision came to him, and led him to register
a claim to owning the Moon in 1980. He claims to have filed a document
with "his local US Governmental Office for claim registries," an entity
that simply does not exist. To this date, Hope has not been able to
produce the original document that he purports to have registered;
instead, he offers a poorly-worded page that he made up on his home
computer several years after the fact.
Wouldn't you think that — if the original document
existed — it would be one of the most important documents in history?
also conveniently ignores the fact that numerous other entities made
claims to "moon ownership" prior to his supposed filing — and all
equally as bogus. A claim by a lawyer from Chile was published in his
nation's public record in 1953 and was noted by the President of the
United States during the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. In 1955, Robert R.
Coles, chairman of New York's legendary
Hayden Planetarium, announced that the Moon was his own and sold
thousands of parcels for one dollar per acre to benefit the facility. In
1966, the Geneva town council in Ohio signed and ratified its own "Declaration
of Lunar Ownership."
In addition, Hope states — also incorrectly — that the
so-called United Nations Outer Space Treaty
failed to mention anything about
private individuals or corporations owning celestial bodies, and
that this "legal loophole" is the basis for his claim's
In fact, Article VI of the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty,
ratified and is currently in effect, clearly covers this
"States Parties to the Treaty shall bear
international responsibility for national activities in outer space,
including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such
activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by
non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities
are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the
present Treaty. The activities of
non-governmental entities in outer space, including the
moon and other celestial bodies,
shall require authorization and continuing supervision
by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty."
You may read the entire text of the treaty on the
United Nations website.
Space Law Frequently Asked Questions section, the United Nations
spells this out in very plain language:
Q: Can any State claim a part of outer space
as its own?
A: No. The Outer Space Treaty states that outer space,
including the Moon and other celestial bodies is not subject to
national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or
occupation, or by any other means. The Treaty establishes the
exploration and use of outer space as the "province of all mankind."
The Moon Agreement expands on these provisions by stating that
neither the surface nor the subsurface of the Moon, nor any
part thereof, or natural resources in place,
shall become property of any State, international
intergovernmental or non-governmental organization, national
organization or non-governmental entity or
of any natural person.
The legal definition of "natural person" is an "individual
human being." The person we are referring to here as the "owner
of the Moon" is a "natural person."
Additionally, this person repeats another falsehood:
that the 1979 U.N. Moon Agreement failed to win the necessary
votes to become ratified as law.
According to Dennis Hope's own website (spelling
and punctuation errors are from his original text):
"Theres just one small, minor problem: Of all the
approximately 185 member states of the UN only six states supported
it. All others, including all spacefaring nations (USA, Russia,
China etc) refused to sign it and did not sign it. That is something
that does not seem to be well known. The USA explicitly refused to
sign it as it would inhibit the exploitation of Lunar and other
celestial resources for profit by corporations and individuals. Some
websites actually incorrectly list the Moon Treaty as ratified. (Far
more worrying...this includes Nasas own, published archives.)"
Not well known? The reason that this "is
something that does not seem to be well known" is because this person
is WRONG! The reason that websites, including "NASA's own,"
claim that the 1979 Moon Agreement was ratified is because it was
ratified — by consensus of ALL
UNITED NATIONS MEMBER-STATES. It received the required number of
ratifications and has indeed been in force since 11 July 1984.
The reason that NASA's website lists this agreement as having been
ratified is the same reason that the U.N.'s website lists it: BECAUSE
IT HAS BEEN RATIFIED AND IT IS THE LAW.
If you don't believe us, check with the United
Nations. If you don't believe them, check with the
International Institute of Space Law (IISL) in Vienna; the
president of IISL, Dr. Nandasiri Jasentuliyana, is the former Deputy
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna and served as
Director of the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs, overseeing the
implementation of both the 1967 and 1979 treaties.
Official Moon Property
Don't be fooled by novelty
Support legal commercial
settlement of the Moon.
That's our source for the law. What is Dennis Hope's
He may have appeared on television, radio and in
newspaper articles that take
a light-hearted look at his claim. But those programs and
articles usually also quote
space law experts who explain that
the "deeds" he sells are
merely a novelty and that no basis exists in law to
legitimize his claim. It should be noted that, for nearly two decades,
the so-called "deeds" sold by this person included a
very prominent disclaimer advising the buyer that he or she had
purchased a "novelty gift."
Luna Society International, a publicly registered
International Business Company, offers land claims to selected
properties on the Moon in compliance with the Lunar Settlement
Initiative, under which at least 95% of all funds raised must go
directly to support a privatized program for settlement and development
of the Moon.
We don't claim to own the Moon; no nation or
government owns the land within its borders. Instead, laws and treaties
are created that allow for the orderly distribution of property.
We are offering a legal means for private
citizens and commercial enterprises to purchase Lunar real estate, along
with a realistic program for the eventual settlement and development of
On a daily basis, we are contributing to the goal of
returning humans to the Moon. We are proud
of the work we are doing and of the achievements we have had so far.
The Society has developed the most comprehensive interactive atlas of
the Moon ever released to the public (www.FullMoonAtlas.com);
successfully advocated the removal of
a crater designated for a Nazi war criminal; provides financial
and administrative resources to organizations that are helping us to
reach our goals; annually provides scholarship opportunities to students
seeking advanced education in aerospace-related fields; and launched the largest in-classroom Lunar education program ever
undertaken for elementary-school students. Focused on getting youngsters
interested in space exploration and the Universe around us, this program
will culminate with a competition that will send the winner of a
nationwide essay contest to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama (USA).
LUNAR PROPERTY CLAIMS TO SUPPORT LUNA SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL