REAL ESTATE ON THE MOON- SCAM OR LEGIT ?
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Published by: Aayushi Devpura
Since 1890’s the subject of real estate on celestial objects has been present. Everyone in this world, including us, wants to acquire property. Property means cash, cash implies authority, and authority means you are the world’s ruler. Evolved with the strength of thinking, we humans are curious about conquering regions and lands. Our ancestors set out on adventures to discover lands and hence this enthusiasm for exploration and willingness to obtain property is in our blood. In order to govern activities in space, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) has introduced several treaties such as the Outer Space Treaty, the Moon Treaty, Rescue Treaty, Liability Treaty and Registration Treaty, declaring outer space as res communis where all entities have common access to the resources that are contained within its realm and are excluded from making any claims of ownership. These treaties, however, promote the exploration of outer space for peaceful reasons. While national appropriation is expressly not permitted, there is no mention about private ownership of celestial bodies. Confusion over private property rights has provided rise to many land claims by people, most notably Dennis Hope, and American presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
OUTER SPACE TREATY
On January 27th, 1967, the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union sat down together to work out a treaty on the exploration and use of outer space. This treaty entered into force on Oct. 10th, 1967, and became the foundation of international space law. It was signed by 104 nations as of September 2015. The treaty is supervised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). It’s a large document, with loads of articles, subsections, and legalese. But the most appropriate clause is Article II of the treaty, which states: “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.”
But since there is no particular mention is made of private ownership, there are those who argue that this represents a “loophole” in the treaty that enables them to claim and sell property on the Moon at this moment. Because of this ambiguity, there have been attempts to augment the Outer Space Treaty.
THE MOON TREATY
On Dec. 18th, 1979, members of the United Nations presented an agreement intended to be a follow-up to the Outer Space Treaty and close its supposed loopholes. The agreement governing the States activities on the Moon and other Celestial Bodies, “The Moon Treaty” or “Moon Agreement,” this treaty intended to establish a legal framework for the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies. Like the Outer Space Treaty, the agreement established that the Moon should be used for the benefit of all humanity and not for the sake of any individual state. The treaty banned the testing of weapons, declared that any scientific research must be open and shared with the international community, and that nations and individuals and organizations cannot claim anything.
In reality, the treaty failed because it was not ratified by any state that participates in crewed space exploration or is capable of national launch. This involves the United States, ESA’s bigger members, Russia, China, Japan and India. Although it expressly prohibits both national and private ownership of land on the Moon, or its use for non-scientific, non- universal purposes, the treaty effectively has no teeth.
Chandrayaan 2 is an Indian lunar mission that will explore the southern polar region of the Moon. No nation has ever been there before. Chandrayaan 2 will not only strive to bring India to the elite space club of three nations that had soft-landed on moon, but will also attempt to discover ways to sustain human life on Earth’s natural satellite with the goal of colonising it. Chandrayaan 2 is also probable to look for a big cave, whose pictures were captured by Chandrayaan 1 orbiter, which could serve as a basis for future manned missions. This is because human survival is very difficult on Moon’s surface owing to dangerous radiation, micro-meteoritic effects, extreme temperature and storms of dust.
A Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) initiated the Chandrayaan 2 mission from Sriharikota Space Centre on 22 July 2019 to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III). It involves a lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all domestically created. Chandrayaan 2, loaded with 13
payloads, will conduct thorough analysis of the topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, lunar atmosphere for the new understanding and evolution of Moon.
Importance of Chandrayaan 2 Mission
• 1st space mission to perform a soft landing on the Moon’s southern polar region.
• 1st Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology.
• 1st Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology.
• 4th nation ever to soft-land on the lunar surface, after USA, Russia, and China.
• Through this attempt, the goal is to enhance our knowledge of the Moon – findings that will benefit India and mankind as a whole.
• The insights and experiences from this lunar expedition may propel further journeys voyages to the farthest borders.
After the successful launch of India’s second moon mission – Chandrayaan 2 – an Indian man came forward to assert how this would inch him towards his dream of finally living on the moon. When his claims rack up a controversy, he provided evidence that 16 years ago, he had purchased five acres of land for $140 from New York-based Lunar Society International.
Rajeev V Bagdi, a stock market analyst, produced official documents issued by the Lunar Society, filled with the statement of citizenship and a map of the lunar surface. It read: “Rajeev Bagdi is the real and legal owner of the estate situated at Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) 32.8 degrees north latitude, 15.6 degrees west longitude track-30.”
He also said that he is not alone, as lakhs of people around the globe have also invested in properties on the moon including his cousin Lalit Mohata. As reported by News 18 articles, several celebrities have also done the same thing.
DENNIS HOPE- THE REAL ESTATE AGENT
We have been talking about Dennis Hope for years, this fascinating person who claims to be the Moon’s owner. Dennis Hope is an uncommon man at work: he has been selling properties on the Moon since the 1980s. It is not the only celestial body to his meter, he also succeeded to award land on Mercury, Mars, Venus and the natural satellite of Jupiter. Dennis Hope is making money on the back of our dear natural satellite through his real estate
agency, the Lunar Embassy. Each piece of land costs twenty-four U.S. dollars, including nineteen U.S. dollars for the property, one and a half U.S. dollar of lunar tax, and two and a half U.S. dollars to print the name of the owner on the certificate.
This American has sold more than four hundred million acres of lunar territory thanks to his
agency. Meanwhile, he developed an “Intergalactic Government”, through in agreement with the owners and the multiple lunar governments that arose, he ratified a Space Constitution. And even a currency has been established: the Delta. Dennis Hope also stated: “We estimated that the Moon hosts reserves of Helium 3 – a very strong energy – worth billions of billions of American dollars in 2008. We plan to leverage these reserves and thereby give credibility to our money, the Delta, so that we can start using it and assist governments in need”. As a direct result, the Lunar Embassy, which was originally a real estate agency, became the first and only company to use Helium 3 resources on behalf of the “Intergalactic Government”.
ASGARDIA- “THE SPACE NATION”
Asgardia is a micro nation created by group of individuals who have launched a satellite into Earth Orbit. They refer to themselves as "Asgardians" and they have given their satellite the name "Asgardia-1". They have proclaimed sovereignty over the space occupied by and contained within Asgardia -1. The Asgardians have adopted a constitution and intend to access the outer space free from the control of existing nations and establish a permanent settlement on moon by 2043.
Russian scientist and businessman Igor Ashurbeyli is very serious about constructing a sovereign nation in outer space. He's so sure of his plans, in fact, that he's funding the space nation — called Asgardia — through his Austria-based Aerospace International Research Center. But even if his concept is really absurd, Ashurbeyli is not the only one planning for human life in orbit about half a million individuals have already applied for Asgardian
citizenship. Asgardia is currently registered as a nonprofit organization in Vienna, Austria, where Ashurbeyli's Aerospace International Research Center is situated.
LEGAL STATUS OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL REAL ESTATE
Dennis Hope’s explanation for why he can sell land he never bought is that, essentially, no one told him he couldn’t. He claims he wrote to the United Nations in 1980, telling the august body that he declared himself owner of the Moon and several planets unless they came up with a good reason why he was not permitted to do so. Unsurprisingly, they never wrote back. Dennis Hope assumed that the Outer Space Treaty doesn’t apply to individuals. The Article II of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (entered into force on 10 October, 1967) 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”. Article VI of the aforementioned Treaty adds that “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. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization”.
Article VI vests the responsibility for activities in space to States Parties, regardless of whether they are carried out by governments or non-governmental entities. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 has been ratified by all the major space-faring nations and has thus become customary law. Dennis Hope’s explanation therefore doesn’t really stand. Bottom line is that there is no way to assert that land, anyone trying to sell land to potential buyers is basically selling snake oil. Any documentation claiming you own land on the Moon is unenforceable and will not be recognized by any nation on the planet that has signed either the Outer Space Treaty or the Moon Treaty.
Three superpowers of the world, namely the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom had come up with the Outer Space Treaty in January 1967. This international treaty is intended to be followed and upheld by all the countries, which states that all outer space explorations would only be done to benefit humanity and no individual can purchase land on the lunar surface.
Article II of the Outer Space Treaty reads: “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.”
Back in 2018, actor Sushant Singh Rajput also stated that he had purchased property on the moon and had a 'legal' certificate of purchase. However, according to an Indian Express report, experts have said that what he owns is possibly just an overpriced piece of paper. This means that Bagadia and everyone else who invested their money in buying plots of land on the moon were, in all probability, scammed. The lunar deed given to individuals is just a piece of paper that is either a scam or a glorified personal gift to a loved one to demonstrate cause and nothing more.