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The Almighty Buck

Extraterrestrial Real Estate for Sale 230

Tom Mulcahy pointed us over to The Lunar Embassy. Yes, that's right. You can purchase real estate on the Moon, Io, Venus, Mars, and, apparently the Universe. Ah, the beauty of capitalism.
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Extraterrestrial Real Estate for Sale

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  • by BWS ( 104239 )
    what if we bought a big space on the moon (the side that always faced Earth) and put the word L-I-N-U-X in REALLY REALLY BIG letter?
  • No, It does not. It can't, & neither can any other nation. A few decades ago, the U.N. (the body that does nothing) ratified, & I believe all countries signed a law saying that no nation can own a part of the solar system. Or something like that ;)

  • Humm - funny, the moon doesn't look like a bridge from here ...
  • porn at 0G? bad idea.. icky blobs of semen floating around the room.

  • You can't see the landing site. Well you can (ie the general area of the moon) but you can't see eg the US flag or footprints.
  • 1) They could have just orbited the Earth a few times before splashing down.

    2) With a large enough telescope, maybe. BUT NO SUCH TELESCOPE EXISTS!!!!!

    3) there != their

    4) Conceded
  • Because it doesn't mean you own it. Tell you what, send ME $20, and I'll tell you that you own a bit of the moon.
  • Touché
    ------------------------------------------ ----------------
  • I believe America's current policy is that is has claimed no land, reserves the right to do so, and does not recognize any other countries' claims there.

    I also believe there are environmental treaties restricting how Antartica can be exploited, not sure right off the top of my head.

    Right now there are a bunch of bases there, basically just research, and a handful of permanent ones, from a few countries. I'm not aware of any actual territorial claims.

  • Holy /. effect batman.
  • Time zones will be mainly local with a translation
    system to Earth times. It is not correct to say that UTC is used in space applications. UTC is mainly used in observations from Earth. However it is not the main standard for times in space probe
    communications. There, it is mostly used sideral time and more complex stuff. One of them is to use the planet's "proper" timings.
    Presently I only know about one planet carrying a complete timing up to a calendar system: Mars. Due to several constraints people at JPL created and used the Darien calendar. It looks much like Earth's but with clear differences. For example the day, "sol" is a bit longer than Earth's. As far as I know the first use of the Darien calendar was on Viking missions. After that and until Pathfinder's arrival it was nearly forgotten.
  • Well, my extraterestrial geography isn't as great as it might be. But I'm pretty sure that 29 and a quarter squares to the south-east of the extreme northwest corner of the Martian chart is still part of Mars.

    Also, It doesn't seem to mention how much land you've got. Seems a deed would need this information.
  • The flag is up there at six manned sights, but unlike Cortez and his contempoaries, Armstrong and the other lunar mission commanders made NO clain to lunar territory. As I remember the plaque reads "We Come In Peace For All Mankind" and it's signed by President Nixon among others.

    "Space Command" it maybe, but it's all about watching "them" here on Earth.
  • Does Spain own the Americas?

    No, and neither does Italy. (Italy, more specific the countryside of Genua, is where Columbus came from).

    And I'm sure the original Indian tribes put some flags somewhere, or the Normans, or...
  • Let's not get bent out of shape here. The treaty has NEVER been enforced, Since the end of the Cold War, there's nothing TOO enforce, and nothing to enforce it with. Besides it's an American tradition to break treaties when land expansion is concerned, so I wouldn't worry.

    The only thing besides lack of technology holding the corporates from expanding into space is that there isn't any money to be made there... yet. And that's the only reason they'll go, forget the Star Trek crap.
  • The site seems to be Slashdoted @2:47 PDT
  • Uranus is already taken... Someone made a comment quite early stating that they didn't want any properties on uranis. Tehehe.
  • Be careful when you choose a planet to put your money in. Due to limitations of the TCP/IP standard (2 minute timeout) you won't be able to access the 'net from your favorite Mars part.

    It's a good argument to use when negotiating the price :)
  • by vik ( 17857 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:55AM (#1583023) Homepage Journal
    Uh, guys, isn't this a novelty item?

    Nobody owns the moon. Ownership is prohibited by a few treaties. Details of the legal aspects of owning the moon can be found off the Artemis Society homepage [], specifically in the Frequently Raised Objections [] section.

    As an aside, TransOrbital Inc. [] is going to be taking pictures of the moon using a telescope in lunar orbit, so people will be able to have a picture of "their" plot if they choose.

    Vik :v)
  • Prior inhabitants have never been much of an obstacle to 'manifest destiny'. Just ask the Indians.
  • After all, if you went there and declared autonomy, who would come stop you?

    Lack of food, fuel, and oxygen.

    Berlin-- []
  • This is a really annoying form of profiteering. It's capitalizing on peoples interest in space and space exploration. There's technically nothing wrong with of course. I find it sad however that no good will come from this for space exploration. People are going to hand over money for a useless certificate.

    I'd much rather see people donate money to the Planetary Society. Sure, you don't get a nifty laser printed certificate you can pretend entitles you to interplanetary real estate but maybe you'll fund some useful research.
  • ahh but that law says no NATION.
  • by Head Louse ( 68482 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:00AM (#1583029)
    According to Discover []: The 1979 resolution states that the moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind and that the moon shall not be used for military purposes. It also declares that any benefits derived from the exploitation of the moon's natural resources will be shared, "whereby the interests and needs of the developing countries, as well as the efforts of those countries which have contributed either directly or indirectly to the exploration of the moon, shall be given special consideration."
    Only problem with the Moon Treaty is that the United States and the other space-faring civilizations refused to sign it.

    According to the The Artimis Project []:
    The Moon is a venue of "lex nullus"; that is, it is identical in legal status to the high seas, meaning that nobody can own it and everybody can go there.

  • Yep, I'm looking forward to the day like in the Heinlein novel, The Man Who Sold the Moon, Pepsi spends a ton of money for the right to spread lots of dark dust to put it's logo on the face of the Moon.

    Heck, NJ's Governer Christine Whitman has already started her pioneering steps. Come watch some sports at the Continental Airlines Arena, catch your band at the PNC Bank Arts Center. I'm waiting anxiously to see who buys the right to rename the Great Falls next.
  • All the flag discussion is moot. As been said before, The Apollo flags weren't planted as flags of colonisation. (No claims to territory were made at the time of the landings). They were more in the spirit of the flags that climbers put on top of Mt. Everest.

    Considering the times, (still relatively deep in the Cold War), the only real effect would have been to fuel Communist claims of capitalist expansionism.)

    Whoever does actually get their first with a full-blown commerical industrial colony will mostly likely be the first to scrap said treaty, followed by whoever makes it next. As far as I know, the Russians didn't even bother to claim the ice caves they discovered at the lunar pole. Right now making legal decisions on this makes about as much sense as the U.S. positions on cryptography.
  • And the light WILL be on for you. :)
  • I don't see anything on the website stating that this is a novelty only. Everything I read says that they have a legal right to sell moon property because the owner of the company filed a declaration of ownership of the moon with the US gov. in 1980.

    Now, if it says for novelty only on the deed when you get it, couldn't you sue for false advertising ? The web site insists over and over again that it isn't a joke and it's legal.

    If it does say that this is a novelty only on the website, I missed it and I would greatly appreciate you letting me know where on the site it says this.
  • I mean, by really old common-law type standards, first person to put a flag on the territory gets it, yes?
  • Good... Now I can finally fulfill my plans to bring prostitution to space. I bet that would get people interested in space travel. ;]

    Actually, I would like to see who bites onto this one and starts buying up chunks of the moon.
  • by Big Electric Cat ( 101345 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @01:16PM (#1583045)
    I think you've find that, in this case as in many others, possession is nine tenths of the law. After all, if you went there and declared autonomy, who would come stop you?

    Well, I'm fundamentally dependent on Earth for resupply, and I'm quite vulnerable to attack. But there's a much more fundamental problem then that: Because the Outer Space Use treaty and related international law prevent any nation from making a territorial claim in space, private organizations are effectively blocked from going anywhere. We worry about this often over on and everywhere in the space-advocacy community.

    The gist is this: suppose I'm a company that sees some value in putting up a moonbase, or maybe I'm the Artemis Project. I need to put, let's say, $10 billion into accomplishing that. Unfortunately, I'm trying to build something that has no protections whatsoever under national or international law. How do I convince investors this is a good bet? How do I value off-planet property as a corporate asset in an IPO, when I can't even determine legally what my property is? How do I insure against accident? Insurers like to have a really specific notion of what they're getting into. If the Department of Defense decides they need my moonbase more than I do, am I protected by eminent domain laws, or not?

    Remember, I'm not just the 6 guys up on the moon protecting their property rights by lobbing rocks at the Capitol building; I'm also the enormous organization back on the ground that got them there. Lack of law makes my life very, very difficult back on Earth.

    The folks down at SpaceDev ( are running a private research mission to an asteroid, and their chances of making it look pretty good right now. If they do, Jim Benson (their CEO) has said he expects to lay claim to it as property. Moved to Earth, its mineral value is probably in the tens of trillions of dollars. Should he get to keep it? We obviously need a system where entrepeneurs get to keep the fruits of their labor, or no one will ever bother with space- as most people aren't bothering now, in the absence of that system. But we don't want people making enormous claims based on minor accomplishments, either, and at some point any large development in space is going to be more than just property; it'll be a nation, or at least a city, too. How do we structure law to enable this, and can we get any new treaty past China's veto anyway? I'd love to hear some new geek ideas.

  • This doesn't seem all that professional. I haven't got the slightest idea what a northeast corner of a world map is. If they produce such deeds they should at least make it look like somewhat professional.
  • I want the "face" on Mars. Should be
    worth millions to my great grand children!
  • I thought it was funny. Then again I got a kick out of Married with Children and ribald shows like that on the tele.

  • Check out [], where they've apparently bought a few 2000-acre plots from Lunar Embassy and are re-selling it at 3 pounds/acre. (what's that in $ anyone?)

    Another old favorite is the Martian Consulate [] page. When they opened, they had a pyramid scheme going. Once you bought land, you could refer friends (read "spam the UseNet with your referral #") and get a percentage of what they pay for their Martian plots, as well as any people they referred, etc. It doesn't look like they're promoting that program anymore, but the order form still asks for your referral number.

  • What's the NSA going to say about importing new Martian encryption technology? Or, heaven forbid, providing the new superadvancedaliens with 128-bit DES :)
  • Yeah, man! I wanna buy the big red spot on Jupiter!
    "When the Earth hits your eyes, like a big pizza pie, that's amore'" heh... cool.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, that is not known. Columbus origin is unknown. It is only known that the earliest records of his father is from that region, but those records are from after Columbus was born.

    Some theories speculate that he was from Norway.

    It goes like this: Columbus never actually used the name Columbus himself. He used "Colon", which means "farmer". Around the same time of the first records of his father, a family from one of the oldest royal families in Norway, "Bonde", emigrated due to a power struggle.

    "Bonde" is Norwegian for farmer. Also, Columbus weaponshield used the same symbols as the Bonde family, and the family had a connection to Italy.

    If that theory holds, the current heirs of the Columbus name can trace their family back to Assyrian royalty somewhere around 1000-500 B.C..

    There is record of the ancestors of the Bonde family as Assyrian royalty that migrated through Europe, at some point serving the Pope, then moving through what is now Germany, as part of the Karolingian dynasty, controlling part of Germany. At some point they emigrated again, and became the foundation of one of the oldest known Scandinavian royal families, with lots of power both in Sweden and Norway.

    At one point they held the Norwegian throne.

    Then, as mentioned before, a part of the family suddenly disappears totally, after a power struggle. And at the same time Christoffer Colon (oddly similar to Kristoffer Bonde - as mentioned, Bonde and Colon has the same meaning), and his father appears in public records in Italy, using the same weapon shield. And Christopher soon develop royal ambitions (claiming the title of "vice king" of any land he discovers). Also, according to several accounts from his lifetime, he had fair or reddish hair, and is very tall.

    It's an intriguing thought :-)

    If it's true, it means that his current heirs can pretty much give up any thought of spending time of genealogy - that family is extremely well documentet.

    (Btw.: All historical detail is a result of my bad memory of a book on the subject... I'm likely to have screwed up details :-)

  • Before the first human moon landings a treaty was ratified that stated that no nation would own the Moon, and that it would be freely available for scientific exploration to anyone that wanted it.

    I would imagine that the same applies to all of the other planets,since the cost of getting there far outweighs the (present) commercial rewards.

    As for the asteroids, comets and, dare I say it, other _stars_, a similar rule would apply. After all, what hard-headed, capit(a/o)l driven buisness person in this day and age would throw away those sums of money?

    No, anyone who goes "out there" will do so in the name of science and exploration first.

    It will be at leat 50 years until we see the Moon being exploited for commercial gain.

    Low Earth Orbit.. that's another story.. Give it 5 years until the well-heeled will be going there.
  • If I recall correctly, the moon is a neutral zone.
  • What if anyone from Outer Space comes up and says this words?

    Silly yeah?
    But the unfortunate thing is that this already happened. 500 years ago another guy claimed for the crown of Spain a several islands in what was supposed to be the End of the World. And he created a precedent, that, until the beginning of this century, was an epidemia turned one of the greatest tragedies of Mankind. Even the democratic, pluralist and liberal United States of America did not avoid this train. Even now we have a few islands that came into possession of the US through such procedure.
    No one asked the people of these lands what did they think of the fact that they belonged to anyone else. No one cared if these lands were completely desertic or had civilizations much older than their new "owners". On the contrary. Every european, asian or american power used all its means to "prove" such ownerships through Ironclad policies. And every resitence or rebellion had to face a terrible fate.

    No matter these agreements or treaties, the first space powers (the real ones, those who will start up Space colonisation, if one gets the guts to do it) will just leave them on the shelf. And they will not take a damn about these Outer Space Real Estate dealers. All this is just snake oil. It is playing with everyone who wishes to become Colombus or Lord Sandwich (yeah, it seems there was such a guy). Btw, these new Pizarros and Corteses are doing a silly and unethical play.

    The Moon is probably much worser then Mojave or Skeleton beach since its beginning. Mars is probably in a RIP status for quite a long time. Yeah Europe could have some bacteria inside. But I also heard that these unreal estaters sell stars, pieces of galaxy or even whole galaxies.

    A warning. The next terminal station can be 10, 100 or 100000000 light years from us. BUT IT IS THERE. No matter we know or don't know about it. And we don't know how alien humour reacts to human dumbiness. Sincerly Clinton once said some harsh words about Mars. Luck no one's there now. But even for a human his words could be measured as highly offensive. To understand the level of what he said there is only the need to change the word "Mars" with any US foe or less friendly state. Had he messed a word (like Reagan once did) and that would be very serious diplomatic trouble.

    You may think this sounds silly. Well NO ONE seems to be out there... For now, and here... But if IT IS out there? Or even here and now? What do you think he thinks about us and these stupidities?
  • I thought there was an international agreement to prevent territory wars that said that no country or person could lay claim to land outside of earth? This would seem to be in violation of that...
  • except that the red spot is an atmosphereic anomaly and is always moving.

    You'd be as well off trying to buy El Nino.
  • "As long as you don't ask me to smell Uranus."

    "We don't call it that anymore, astronomers changed the name in the 2200's to avoid that little joke."

    "Oh really? What's it called now?"

  • I can say to you that I will sell you a spot on Mars, but if (someday) you could go to that little spot that I said you own and you find little green men living there, it is no longer thiers?

    More or less. At least, that's the way it worked when we screwed over the American Indians.

    I would like to sell people little glass vacuum spheres. Then you can say you own nothing, and it is something!

    In all seriousness, that's not a bad idea for a novelty gift.

    Berlin-- []
  • Does that mean that people will then suffer Venus envy?
  • I'm gonna host the first Slashdot mirror on the moon! Of course, it will be a little slow, but think of the media coverage!
  • > If I recall correctly, the moon is a neutral
    > zone.

    WHAT? We must have been desprate to risk war with the ROMULANS!!


    Seriously though, the idea of any one country "claiming" anything outside of the planet is pretty sickening. Unforunately, while the major countries seem to have restraint, I can certainly see some of the smaller war-like nations trying to claim it for themselves. :/
  • by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:04AM (#1583064)
    Straight from the Lunar FAQ.

    Do you believe in the Prime Directive?
    We do. Really. It's more than just a silly rule, but more a philosophy to life. We feel, we all must learn to respect all life, no matter what it looks like or where it came from. Our team has several Star Trek fans, mainly TNG tho, so please don't ask them about what Kirk did in episode 27. Their favorite Trek episodes are The Inner Light (TNG), although the Borg ones as well as All Good Things, rank right up there amongst the top ever, surely. Ah. They don't make them like they used to. Please note, that in honour of Star Trek VIII:"First Contact", the next two Lunar Cities will be named "Tycho-City" and "New-Berlin" as mentioned in the film. Our message is: Live now, because now, will never come again.

    What happened to "Live long and prosper"? Who's the star trek fan?
    Joseph Elwell.

  • by orac2 ( 88688 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:05AM (#1583065)
    The agreement in question is the Outer Space Treaty [] and it's been around since 1967. The US, the UK and Russia were founder signatories. The most relevant piece here is "outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means".

    So, even if its not technically illegal to claim a piece of the Moon or Mars as your real estate in the US, the claim has no force outside the jurisdiction of the US, and the US is forbidden from extending it's sovereign territory into space. So it's pretty worthless having a claim on the Sea of Tranquility if your claim isn't actually valid there...

  • This is why the concept of real estate has never been a good one. No one can really own land.

    Land can be occupied. That's what armies are for. They occupy land that their respective countries claim and repel others who claim it.

    Which bring us to the problem of the moon. Does the US own the moon, as has been suggested? My invariable answer must be no. The US neither exploiting its resources (any more than anyone else on the planet, anyway), nor occupying it.

    The question is would the US attempt to defend the moon from invasion from other sovereign powers? For example, if {insert your least favorite country here - if it's the US insert your second choice} started building a colony on the moon, would the US start a war over it?

    Actually, I find it more likely that the US would just send country#2 a bill. Or legislate that no one may build moon colonies. Especially if the name of the moon colony closely resembles the name of a government website. :-)
  • There's a much easier, more legal way to do get people of 'their' land: when somebody starts to build infrastructure on the moon they probably may charge owners of 'developped' properties with development costs. Now that's a bill i don't want to pay ...

  • Just a side comment, that the flag appears to be blowing in the wind in the various moon photos. Of course, with no atmosphere, this means that the astronauts just unfurled the flag and with only 1/6 gravity, it sort of 'sticks' temporarily.

    Actually, the moon flags are kept unfurled by wires hemmed into their edges.

    Any flag durable enough to survive any length of time on the moon is going to be too heavy to float as you describe. Anyway, the kind of floating you're talking about relies on air resistance, which is in rather short supply up there.
  • A remark on your side comment: No, the flag does not "stick" in 1/6th Earth gravity, at least not for an appreciable moment. The flags on the moon simply had a steel (or more likely aluminium) rod reinforcing the upper edge!
  • It would be much easier to take Harriman to court for the price of those stamps which never actually flew. Might win that way.
  • Not to be a pedantic bastard, but it's Alludium q-36 explosive space modulator.
    Okay, I'm a pedantic bastard.
  • No, he'd need at least three medium-sized planets, which will be just barely enough room to house the Complaints Department.

    "Go Stick Your Head in a Pig,"

  • This means you can't claim the treaty doesn't apply to you because you aren't affiliated with a national government. Anything you do in space falls under the jurisdiciton of some country.

    Huh? What country would that be, exactly? If a company in a non-signatory nation built a base on the moon and claimed property rights by homesteading to the area where the base was, what exactly would the State Parties to the Treaty do?

    What gave the signatories of the treaty the right to decide what can or can't be done on the moon by those not subject to their sovreignty?

    Of course, the "deeds" being sold by the Lunar Embassy are completely bunk, as they themselves say, but that is not because ownership of lunar property is inherently unlawful.

  • Uh, maybe you didn't understand. Yes, it's there to protect from lawsuits. The way it protects from lawsuits is to dispel any impression that it's a real deed to real property.

    I liked the joke postings better. Can I turn it in for a pound of green cheese?


  • (1) The guy selling property on the moon probably doesn't have the legal right to sell it - he doesn't own it, nor does he represent the owners. (There probably aren't any.)

    (B) This reminds me of Swatch's recent effort to 'bring people together' by violating international communications law (a satellite transmitting in a reserved frequency).

    (III) Is this an effort to bring people together or to make some money? I'm all for noble efforts, but how do we know (especially considering (1) above) that this really isn't a cynical way of separating money from people?


  • On my Gnome desktop clock it says "941068549" right now. If they make a day 10^5 seconds that would give us a nice extra 3.7777 hours to get our work done (ok, our /. reading) done too...

    Put little dots at the 1000 day and 100 second marks and you get

    Stardate 9.410.688.31
  • So who owns that land. What is they someday discover huge oil reserves or anything valuable. I wouldnt mind picking up some cheap property there. Seriously, whats the deal with it. Does anyone own it, control it or what. I know there are scientist from all over the world there but other than that...
  • That's like that Tick episode where Chairface Chippendale starts to write on the moon and only half succeeds, what was cool was that in each following show, whenever the moon was in the shot, that writing was still there.

  • MS Moon could be dangerous! In about 5 years it would bloat to such considerable size that it would consume Terra!
  • Yeah, the company can perhaps legally sell land on the Moon and Mars but is the ownership of some real estate in outer space really worth anything unless you can defend it? If you can't defend your property you don't really own it. How would you stop anyone from just taking your land? You can't. We can just look at history and see for example how the white people kicked the Indians off their own land because the Indian couldn't defend it well enough. And the Indians at least had spears and arrows. If you would buy some real estate on the Moon you wouldn't have anything except that single piece of paper stating that you own that area. But who would ever care about that piece of paper? You could perhaps argue that the government would defend your land in outer space, just like it does here on Earth, but would the US government really spend millions of dollars to stop someone from stealing your property on the Moon? I think not.

    Perhaps I'm just taking this just a little bit too seriously :)

  • I actually own a piece of the moon.

    Quoting from my "Martian Deed":

    Area I-32, Quadrant Echo 1, Lot Number 844
    This property is located 029 squares south and 004 squares east of the extreme northwest corner of the recognized Martian chart.

    Seriously, I have a piece of the moon from this company. It was given to me by a friend of mine a year or two back. He thought it was hilarious, and I found it quite amusing myself.

    It does say: "this is a novelty gift".

    I wish I could put up a scan, but I don't have a scanner nearby...
  • According to international law, the UN, etc. etc... the Moon is not owned by any one entity, and therefore, having someone "selling" territory on it is impossible.

    Its all kinda pointless until we actually manage to actually establish a viable colony, anyway...
  • Will ICANN handle domain name registration for the .moon .venus .mars etc. domains? Or will they be assigned standard ISO 3166 codes?

    I know that .io (which might be a good TLD for banks and other lending institutions) is already assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territories, so they will have to have a less intuitive domain, unless moons are only given second level domain names under the planet around which they revolve. This would mean that our moon would have to be given the domain or the domain.

    By the way, did you know there are already 247 ISO 3166 codes assigned? That means that we are almost 40% of the way to assigning every possible 2-letter abbreviation available.

  • In Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold The Moon", a few different ideas are kicked around - one of them is that the moon "belongs" to those countries over which it orbits (intersected by a line from the moon to the center of the earth). Over the course of a year this would sweep out a band of equatorial countries, but would also touch a bit of the USA (though not the USSR). A good story, and an early reference to the idea of using the moon as an advertising billboard. :-)

    I think (but I'm not certain) this story is contained in this [] collection (at
  • or better yet, "f0bic, your seksi voice helped me through the night"
  • Or maybe you could write "Carrie is cute" instead of cracking MS to write it on their homepage. I'm sure your girlfriend would love that!!!! (more than the chocolate and flowers)
  • well, old glory (the american flag) is probably still stuck into the lunar cheeseball, nevertheless. And sorry i lost the (off topic) link, but there was a great nytimes article re: the uncle spam's militarization of outer space.. You can bet the pentagon outspends anyone else to dominate space and assure security of communication/surveillance satellites, regardless of any warm and fuzzy OST.. in fact, there's an arm of the mighty us military called "Space Command".
  • heheh. That episode was just replayed on Com Central on Sunday... Question though.... Why not just modify the man on the moon so its the face of Larry Wall? Come one that would Kick Butt!
  • To be serious for a second (since this is old, and the comment I'm replying to is already
    rated "funny," I doubt anyone reads what I'm about to say anyway) I think that weightless
    sex will be the first commercially viable harnessing of space. Anyone who has done it in a
    pool knows the benefits of escaping gravity, and the drawbacks of pools are legion (going
    far beyond the possibility of drowning if you're not careful!).

    I don't know if anyone noticed, but when NASA sent a husband and wife team up, almost
    all media questions were directed to those 2. Sadly for the USA, I think the Russians beat
    us on that one, though I haven't heard any claims to the "MileS High Club" from them. As
    one of the astronauts said, "gravity sucks," so I expect this development to happen, but
    probably as a honeymoon thing rather than a slutty prostitute thing, within my lifetime.

  • by EngrBohn ( 5364 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:14AM (#1583102)
    IANAL, and it has been four years since I took a "Space Treaties and Legislation" class...
    Under The Outer Space Treaty (short title), no country can stake claim on an extraterrestial body (including the Moon) -- says nothing about private organizations. The Moon Treaty (short title), which only a handful of countries have signed (none of the major space powers have signed it), is based on The Law of the Sea Convention and is more muddy regarding private ownership rights.
    As to whether the U.S. could currently claim ownership, territorial waters traditionally had been defined by the range of the most advanced artillary of the time (weapons of the last few decades has made this absurd, which is why there is now an arbitrary distance used). Even if the U.S. claimed ownership of the Moon, it is currently in no position to defend that claim.
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • If I remember correctly, real estate on other planets and the moon has been sold for quite some time now. The rationale is that, whereas governments are not allowed to own planetary bodies, there is nothing preventing individuals to own them.

    How do you take ownership of a patch of the Moon, then? Well, back in the old days (i.e., the Renaissance), you went there with a Government-sponsored team and claimed the land in the name of a nation. You then stacked it up with soldiers to make sure no one contradicts your claim.

    So, if you buy a land on the Moon, how are you going to go there and claim it, much less defend it against invasion?

    The simple fact of the matter is, you can't. And Governments will let you dream on about your little patch of Moon property until they decide otherwise.

    In the meantime, people are giving money away, mostly because they think it's fun. But if you think that's much fun, there's a nice bridge for sale on Io. Just give me a call.
    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • Well, the same can be said about the whole planet. :)
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • Secondarily, it's kinda hard to blow a flag down without an atmosphere to sustain a wind, dontcha think? ;-)
    Well, a rocket exhaust is a "wind", and its gas constitutes at "atmosphere" for whatever's in its influence. That's what blew down the flag left by the Apollo 11 mission. FWIW, each LEM left a number of tons of nitrogen and water vapor on the moon during its descent, landing and ascent. IIRC, this temporarily multiplied the normal lunar atmosphere several-fold, until the solar wind and UV drove the molecules to escape velocity and they flew off never to return.
  • by vlax ( 1809 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:23AM (#1583111)

    The United States signed this treaty on the 27th of January, 1967 and deposited an instrument of ratification on the 10th of October, 1967 - making this treaty US law. As far as I can tell, all the countries with a reasonable chance of having a space programme have signed and ratified it, including China, which agreed to the treaty in 1983.

    What does this treaty have to say about property on the moon?

    Article I, para 2

    Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.

    This means you can't keep anyone off of your lunar claim. You can't keep them from building or prospecting or from exercising any other right you have to some strip of land either. Under those conditions, what good does a deed do you?

    Article II

    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.

    This means that no nation can claim exclusive jurisdiction over the moon or any part of it, and that makes it basically impossible to obtain a deed that other countries would consider binding.

    Article VI

    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.

    This means you can't claim the treaty doesn't apply to you because you aren't affiliated with a national government. Anything you do in space falls under the jurisdiciton of some country.

    In short, a deed to the moon, an asteroid, or anything else in space is completely worthless so long as this treaty is in force.
  • I almost made a killing on eBay selling my moon property, and now you had to inform everyone. Thanks a bunch.
  • Yes, Marvin and his Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator should be our biggest fear. Forget our claim on the Moon, he'll annihilate us for blocking his view of Venus!
  • by leoc ( 4746 )
    Think of the advertising possibilities! Chairface chippendale would be proud!
  • Pardon the segue, but...

    We're talking about a very long-term venture here. Space, once we get rolling, will be our future. So while a "no private ownership" creed might be conforting and viable now, it will not hold up for long.

    And what a wonderful way to discourage private industry from going! "You can own chunks of a finite resource down here but don't even think of laying claim to a speck of infinity." What breed of political bullshit is this??

    Glad nobody in the fifteenth century tried this nonsense...

    My .02
  • The Outer Space treaty was almost a decade before the Law of the Sea (which the US still hasn't ratified) and was mostly modelled on the terms of the Antarctic treaty, with one exception. The Antarctic treaty does not annul national claims in Antarctica (a number of nations claim parts of it and the claims overlap), it simply postpones their enforcement and resolution indefinitely. The Outer Space treaty very definitely forbids claims to any object in space.
  • by Christopher B. Brown ( 1267 ) <> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:57AM (#1583143) Homepage
    The killer question:
    What time zone will it be in?

    There is a tendancy to use UTC in space applications; if people start dispersing to the moon, this provides some time delay issues in communications that would result in sync issues; heading further afield to Mars would be similarly disruptive to synchronization of activities.

    It's possible that one might get meaningful information out of a GPS unit from the moon, albeit with extremely screwy coordinates as they'd be relative to the earth. (Mind you, it is probable that consumer units would shut down as you'd be moving more than 999mph relative to earth's surface...)

    Determining time/location will provide opportunities for new fields in vCards and for a bunch of new RFCs. I thought there was one on this, but in querying the archives, I seem to be mistaken...

  • ...using an early model super-computer. Yup, the whole moonshot is CGI. Naturally computers, even super-computers, weren't real good in those days, so to make up for the lack of detail, they made all the footage look grainy. You've seen films from the late 1960's, they don't look grainy! Don't you think if they had really gone to the moon they wouldn't have brought a better camera?

    And they got a young George Lucas to direct it. He was recruted by the CIA during his film school years. That's how he got all the cool ideas for shooting Star Wars.

    This was all proven by the Weekly World News years ago. Get with the programme, dude!

    (For the humour impared, yes, I'm kidding.)
  • by Zombie_Magick ( 71703 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:43AM (#1583166)

    ...the northern hemisphere of the universe shall go to Portugal while the southern hemisphere of the universe shall go to Spain

    Haven't we learned about dealing in land that isn't ours, lands that we can't even get to?

  • I think Slashdot should start a fund that we can all donate to so that we can purchase crater Tycho.

    You know, just in case they find something in it.


  • by binarybits ( 11068 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:35AM (#1583174) Homepage
    This is a silly article, but it points to an important issue: property rights in outer space.

    Contrary to the handwringing of most slashdotters, property rights in outer space is a good thing. People are not goingto invest the time and effort to get out there and build something useful on extraterrestrial bodies unless they think they can be sure they will reap the benefits.

    Property rights are not a threat to space exploration. They are of utmost importance if mankind is to develop beyond the Earth. As nice as "sharing" sounds, it's not what drives progress. Mankind is driven forward by the expectation of material gain, and by the assurance that they will be free to dispose of the fruits of their labor.

    Therefore, international treaties making outer space into a glorified national park should be repealed. As long as they are enforced, space exploration will be harmed.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @11:35AM (#1583175) Homepage Journal
    Y'know, it's a lot easier to be noble in the abstract. Sure, let's make these grand, philanthropic treaties that block access to the moon. Nobody's going to be colonizing there in our lifetimes anyway, the congressmen might think, and it makes us look all noble and humanitarian to the constituents back home.

    I have to wonder just how long all these treaties will hold up when travel to and colonization of the moon (or Mars, etc.) becomes non-trivial.

    After all, nuclear test-ban treaties are broken all the time...
  • I meant to say when travel to and colonization becomes trivial, not non-trivial. Sigh.
  • An AC SAID: The U.S.S.R. was the first to land on the moon, your government just didn't let you know, poor americans. BTW the amstrong landing was a scam, they had shoot it some place in Nevada and Quebec, don't believe everything you see on TV.

    this is my favorite ac conspiracy theory.
    Have you seen the moon footage? did they shoot in that new low gravity area of quebec? come on kid. stay anonymous so that nsa doesn't "dissapear" you for letting it out of the bag.
  • by LordXarph ( 38837 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:43AM (#1583191) Homepage
    WTF, why do this now? People have been selling the Universe (and even the occasional Multiverse) on eBay for months...

  • by mmmmbeer ( 107215 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:44AM (#1583192)
    This brings to mind the recent article [] about Arthur C. Clarke, where he mentions his asteroid. Can I buy a plot of land there? I'd love to say I own part of Arthur C. Clarke. :)

    Seriously, though, what is the point of buying this real estate? Can anyone really expect these claims to hold up if and when we do get to space? And what if we just can't live there? Oh, well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    Btw, does anybody really want to live on Uranus? (Sorry, couldn't help myself?)
  • by Skratch ( 39859 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:44AM (#1583193) Homepage
    With the kind of cash Bill Gates has, he could buy a couple of planets... Just imagine the destruction though, MS Moon would probably crash into the earth a couple times a day....
  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:44AM (#1583194) Homepage
    I think you've find that, in this case as in many others, possession is nine tenths of the law. After all, if you went there and declared autonomy, who would come stop you?
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:44AM (#1583195) Homepage Journal
    The Lunar Embassy states that their certificate has "novelty value only" and is not to be taken as a legal deed. Lots of people don't read the fine print.


  • When colonization starts happening on the moon or mars or wherever, there will be a bunch of people that bought property from somebody who want their piece of it. They're gonna be pretty bummed... :-)

  • More important then treaties, there's no inforcment. If tomorrow I land on your section of the Moon and begin mining for moon-dust what are you going to do about it.

    There's not a court on Earth that would touch me. Even if they did, what are they going to do? Stop buying my Moon Dust? Ha! Moon dust is a valuable commodity. That's why I'm mining it. Any country that bans the import of Moon Dust is hurting itself more then it's hurting me.
  • by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @10:49AM (#1583225)
    (Italicized quotes are from the website.)

    Contrary to popular belief, ownership by individuals of extraterrestrial properties is not forbidden.

    Well, ok, but it does not therefore follow that anyone will take any of these claims seriously.

    The US government has several years to contest such a claim. They never did. Neither did the United Nations nor the Russian Government.

    They've never contested my claim that I'm Napolean Bonapart, either.

    Two former US President and several very prominent stars own their Lunar property already.

    Did they actually *buy* claims, or were they gag gifts?

    This is all pretty silly. If some really rich person -- let's call him D.D. Harriman -- went up and established a lunar colony, and some nut tried to take him to court because he did it on land "claimed" this way, it'd take a judge about 5 minutes to throw the case out. (Not counting the 15 minutes it'd take to stop laughing.)

    "They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." - Carl Sagan

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.