Meet the Messiah, the overlord of our solar system, Dennis M. Hope. In 1980 Mr. Hope, broke, unemployed, and going through a divorce, needed a way to make money quick. Too poor to invest in property on Earth, Hope “looked out the car window ... saw the moon, and thought, There’s a lot of property!”1 Ignorant of previous claims to the moon and thinking he had just hit the jackpot, Hope ran to the library, looked up the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, completely misinterpreted the document and decided that he was free to claim ownership to any celestial body in our solar system, which is exactly what he did.

 

Hope then registered a “Declaration of Ownership” with the San Francisco county offices, claiming himself to be “the omnipitant ruler of the lighted lunar surface” (his spelling, our italics).2 Along with this claim, Hope also outlined his total ownership of the other eight planets in our solar system, all mineral, water, oil, and liquid rights on these planetary bodies, and gave himself “total governmental say as to tenants and governmental entities that wish to negotiate any involvement” with these planetary bodies.3

 

Thus began Hope’s despotic rule over the solar system. For the next sixteen years, Hope sold homemade lunar deeds to patrons at his local bar, making a meager living meanwhile finding ways to further legitimize his claims. He applied for a copyright, and formed and registered his company “The Lunar Embassy”. He also sent out copies of his “Declaration of Ownership” to the US, USSR, and the UN General Assembly. Hope took the silence of these organizations to mean compliance, and continued with his business. From 1980-1996, Hope’s business moved at a glacial pace, selling just over three thousand Lunar Deeds. By 1998, however, Hope had acquired a computer, harnessed the Internet, and his company “The Lunar Embassy” became the preeminent retailer of novelty outer space property. Hope has now made over $11 million selling plots of land on the moon. Hope’s idea to claim ownership is not as novel as he originally thought; It turns out that there were at least ten other claims of moon ownership prior to his own, many of which were registered in the same fashion as Hope’s claim. The difference between these early claims and Hope’s claim in 1980 is that the former were gestures, meant more in jest than as a serious business venture. Even when selling of lunar plots did occur prior to Hope’s claim they were done so as a self proclaimed novelty, going for the price of $1/acre. Hope, from the first time he looked up at the moon in 1980, has had a different goal in mind: profit and power. The massive amount of money that he has made selling these plots of land without any serious contest has only furthered his belief in his unfettered right to rule over these lands. What is most surprising is not that Dennis Hope has made over 11 million dollars selling plots of land on the moon, but that doing so for such an extended period of time has warped his perception of reality. Hope believes his claim to be most legitimate, and has elected himself the President of the Galactic Government, a government body that he created in an attempt to increase the legitimacy of his claims.4 Hope has drafted a constitution for this homemade government, is spending millions of dollars on a magnetic propulsion system in order to physically get to the moon, and is now accepting applications for citizenship to his nation. Hope’s plans for the moon may have begun as a platonic business venture, but they have since devolved into utter lunacy. He also now believes that he has been visited by aliens.5 Property on the Moon: Who Actually Owns it? Wait, so, does Dennis Hope actually own the moon or what? And if so, is he allowed to sell land?—Well, sort of. Hope owns the moon just as much as we do. The 1967 Outer Space treaty states that “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries ... and shall be the province of all mankind.”6 In other words, the moon and outer space belongs to all of us collectively. If the moon were divided among the Earth’s population, everyone would receive roughly 1.32 acres. So yes, Dennis Hope, simply by being human, can claim to own 1/7 billionth of the moon. What about Article II, the one that Hope cites as his loophole? —Article II 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.”7 Dennis Hope interpreted this to mean that the Outer Space Treaty only applied to nations, despite the “province of all mankind” clause in the previous article. In his book Who Owns the Moon, space attorney Virgiliu Pop argues that Hope’s claim “is flawed logic.” -- “[If] States cannot appropriate the extraterrestrial realms, then a fortiori neither can their nationals.”8 Essentially, since Dennis Hope is a member of a signing nation, his claim is invalidated, as the laws to which the nation abides also apply to their citizens. But the very best part of his flawed logic is that Dennis Hope has actually violated his own loophole. By forming his own ‘nation’ and becoming its president, Hope transferred his “ownership” of that land to his Galactic Government.9 Unfortunately, Article II states that “the moon . . . is not subject to national appropriation”.10 Sorry Dennis, you actually outdid yourself. Another potentially concerning item found on Hope's 'Lunar Estates' website is a statement regarding certain land that the company refuses to sell: “Unfortunately, certain places on the Moon and the other planets are not for sale because we firmly believe that they should remain for the good of all Mankind.”11 Wait......didn’t Article I of the Outer Space treaty say that all of outer space should remain for the good of all Mankind? Maybe we missed the provision stating that “Lunar Estates” will decide which parts of outer space shall remain for public consumption. Future Moon Settlement: Public & Private, Corporate & Yeoman So, Dennis Hope doesn’t actually own the moon. The concern then is not that governments will actually accept Hope’s claims of ownership (highly unlikely, given the lack of official response to his enterprise), but rather that his novel get-rich-quick scheme sets the wrong type of precedent for human expansion into new territories. We will get to the point that humans will actually be able to reach the moon and stay there for longer periods, won’t we? As this happens, the issues of ownership that begin in ludicrous form with Hope’s land grab will become very real, and his claims can become part of the conversation by which we define our interests in lunar land use. Most likely, settlement of the moon will proceed under the guidance of those with access to the technology required for habitation. Even Dennis Hope is not wealthy enough to realistically fund a lunar colony. The Outer Space Treaty was written in the late 60’s with the ambitions of national governments in mind. Today, though, no particular nation seems poised (or welcome) to annex the moon. Rather, it is in the private sector that outer space is being transformed into a possibility---a commercial one, that is. Large corporations like Google and Space X have more agency for reaching celestial bodies today than national programs, including NASA. But are our interests represented by the corporation any more than by the older model of the nation- state? A clear citizen-powered initiative needs to be involved in any ventures into outer space so as to avoid the egregious exploitation of the yeoman.
Enter Lunar Insurrection.

1 Hope, Dennis. Interview with James Cheadle. Dennis Hope – The Man Who Sells Real Estate on the Moon. Union Features, published on YouTube, 21 October 2014.

2 Pop, Virgiliu. “Is the Moon for Sale?” Chapter 1 in Who Owns the Moon? Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership. New York: Springer, 2009. 9

3 Ibid.

4 Koebler, Jason. “Meet the Man Who Owns the Moon”. US News and World Report. 25 March 2013. Available from: http://www.usnews.com/news/arti- cles/2013/03/25/meet-the-man-who-owns-the-moon?page=2 [Accessed 1 April 2015]

5 Hope, Dennis. Interview for Union Features.

6 “1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies”. United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). [Accessed 23 March 2015]

7 Ibid.

8 Pop, 12.

9 Jaggard, Victoria. “Who Owns the Moon? The Galactic Government vs. the UN”. National Geographic News. 17 July 2009. Available from: http://news. nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090717-who-owns-moon-real-estate.html [Accessed 30 March 2015].

10 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

11 Lunar Embassy. Frequently Asked Questions, General Questions : “Can I buy one of the NASA landing sites?”. Available from: http://lunarembassy.com/gener- al-faq [Accessed 27 March 2015].

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Thus began Hope’s despotic rule over the solar system. For the next sixteen years, Hope sold homemade lunar deeds to patrons at his local bar, making a meager living meanwhile finding ways to further legitimize his claims. He applied for a copyright, and formed and registered his company “The Lunar Embassy”. He also sent out copies of his “Declaration of Ownership” to the US, USSR, and the UN General Assembly. Hope took the silence of these organizations to mean compliance, and continued with his business. From 1980-1996, Hope’s business moved at a glacial pace, selling just over three thousand Lunar Deeds. By 1998, however, Hope had acquired a computer, harnessed the Internet, and his company “The Lunar Embassy” became the preeminent retailer of novelty outer space property. Hope has now made over $11 million selling plots of land on the moon. Hope’s idea to claim ownership is not as novel as he originally thought; It turns out that there were at least ten other claims of moon ownership prior to his own, many of which were registered in the same fashion as Hope’s claim. The difference between these early claims and Hope’s claim in 1980 is that the former were gestures, meant more in jest than as a serious business venture. Even when selling of lunar plots did occur prior to Hope’s claim they were done so as a self proclaimed novelty, going for the price of $1/acre. Hope, from the first time he looked up at the moon in 1980, has had a different goal in mind: profit and power. The massive amount of money that he has made selling these plots of land without any serious contest has only furthered his belief in his unfettered right to rule over these lands. What is most surprising is not that Dennis Hope has made over 11 million dollars selling plots of land on the moon, but that doing so for such an extended period of time has warped his perception of reality. Hope believes his claim to be most legitimate, and has elected himself the President of the Galactic Government, a government body that he created in an attempt to increase the legitimacy of his claims.4 Hope has drafted a constitution for this homemade government, is spending millions of dollars on a magnetic propulsion system in order to physically get to the moon, and is now accepting applications for citizenship to his nation. Hope’s plans for the moon may have begun as a platonic business venture, but they have since devolved into utter lunacy. He also now believes that he has been visited by aliens.5 Property on the Moon: Who Actually Owns it? Wait, so, does Dennis Hope actually own the moon or what? And if so, is he allowed to sell land?—Well, sort of. Hope owns the moon just as much as we do. The 1967 Outer Space treaty states that “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries ... and shall be the province of all mankind.”6 In other words, the moon and outer space belongs to all of us collectively. If the moon were divided among the Earth’s population, everyone would receive roughly 1.32 acres. So yes, Dennis Hope, simply by being human, can claim to own 1/7 billionth of the moon. What about Article II, the one that Hope cites as his loophole? —Article II 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.”7 Dennis Hope interpreted this to mean that the Outer Space Treaty only applied to nations, despite the “province of all mankind” clause in the previous article. In his book Who Owns the Moon, space attorney Virgiliu Pop argues that Hope’s claim “is flawed logic.” -- “[If] States cannot appropriate the extraterrestrial realms, then a fortiori neither can their nationals.”8 Essentially, since Dennis Hope is a member of a signing nation, his claim is invalidated, as the laws to which the nation abides also apply to their citizens. But the very best part of his flawed logic is that Dennis Hope has actually violated his own loophole. By forming his own ‘nation’ and becoming its president, Hope transferred his “ownership” of that land to his Galactic Government.9 Unfortunately, Article II states that “the moon . . . is not subject to national appropriation”.10 Sorry Dennis, you actually outdid yourself. Another potentially concerning item found on Hope's 'Lunar Estates' website is a statement regarding certain land that the company refuses to sell: “Unfortunately, certain places on the Moon and the other planets are not for sale because we firmly believe that they should remain for the good of all Mankind.”11 Wait......didn’t Article I of the Outer Space treaty say that all of outer space should remain for the good of all Mankind? Maybe we missed the provision stating that “Lunar Estates” will decide which parts of outer space shall remain for public consumption. Future Moon Settlement: Public & Private, Corporate & Yeoman So, Dennis Hope doesn’t actually own the moon. The concern then is not that governments will actually accept Hope’s claims of ownership (highly unlikely, given the lack of official response to his enterprise), but rather that his novel get-rich-quick scheme sets the wrong type of precedent for human expansion into new territories. We will get to the point that humans will actually be able to reach the moon and stay there for longer periods, won’t we? As this happens, the issues of ownership that begin in ludicrous form with Hope’s land grab will become very real, and his claims can become part of the conversation by which we define our interests in lunar land use. Most likely, settlement of the moon will proceed under the guidance of those with access to the technology required for habitation. Even Dennis Hope is not wealthy enough to realistically fund a lunar colony. The Outer Space Treaty was written in the late 60’s with the ambitions of national governments in mind. Today, though, no particular nation seems poised (or welcome) to annex the moon. Rather, it is in the private sector that outer space is being transformed into a possibility---a commercial one, that is. Large corporations like Google and Space X have more agency for reaching celestial bodies today than national programs, including NASA. But are our interests represented by the corporation any more than by the older model of the nation- state? A clear citizen-powered initiative needs to be involved in any ventures into outer space so as to avoid the egregious exploitation of the yeoman.
Enter Lunar Insurrection.
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