Can You Really Buy Land On Mars? One Man’s Effort To Change The Outer Space Treaty

They say real estate is the best investment around and now savvy entrepreneurs have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of interplanetary land speculation.

That is, if you believe in that sort of thing.

If you’re interested in buying off planet real estate there’s a British doctor who claims to have a legal right to land on Mars and he’s selling 10-acre parcels on the red planet for the bargain price of just $0.01.

It’s not a business scheme, but rather a way to try and force the United Nations to alter the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that says celestial bodies can’t be claimed by individual nations.

People have been selling interstellar real estate for years and now a few well-funded corporations have proposed the idea of asteroid mining as a way to exploit raw materials found on space rocks.

Is any of this legal?

Dennis Hope founded the Lunar Embassy Corp in 1968; a year after more than 120 nations signed the Outer Space Treaty at the U.N. pledging to keep the moon and everything in space neutral.

It hasn’t, however, stopped Hope and his Lunar Embassy Corp from selling thousands of plots of interplanetary real estate.

Much like European explorers laying claim to the New World, Hope has laid claim to real estate on the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, the moons of the outer planets, and the entire dwarf planet of Pluto, according to his website,

“At the last count over 6,011,311 people are already proud owners of their extraterrestrial property, with properties on the Moon being the hot forerunner.”

Picture of Mars Surface. Who can own the moon, Mars or other celestial bodies? (Photo by NASA/Arizona State University via Getty Images)
He’s not the only person to claim the right to sell interplanetary property. Since Hope began operations in 1968 there have been several copycats offering off planet property for sale including several competing companies selling lunar property and Martian real estate. There’s even a Spanish woman who claims to own the sun, according to Express, and a GroupOn available for Martian real estate at a discounted price.

“Much like the purchase of a star, Martian Land Packages include a map charting your acre’s location, an owner’s deed, a NASA report on Mars exploration, and a photo eBook.”

Enter British Doctor Phil Davies.

Davies and his Mars for Sale website set out six years ago to challenge the U.N.’s Outer Space Treaty and some 1,100 people have joined his cause, according to his website Mars.Sale.

“We want the UN and space-faring Nations to take some necessary actions NOW to prevent future trouble in Space.”

To help exert influence on the U.N. and force changes to the Outer Space Treaty, Hope has laid claim to Martian real estate and says he is the factual owner of land on the red planet.

Photo of Earth as seen from the moon. Man challenges Outer Space Treaty. (Photo by NASA/Newsmakers)
To bolster his claim, Hope has been firing lasers at the surface of Mars for the past six years to provide “warmth and light” with the goal of releasing carbon dioxide as part of a basic terraforming effort. It’s all part of a “non-zero positive effect” needed to lay factual claim to a distant land, according to Mars.Sale.

“Our governance plans are entirely consistent with what an Effective Occupier should be seen to do.”

With the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty approaching, Davies sees a real opportunity to effect positive change and he wants the U.N. to step in and prohibit private companies from claiming interplanetary resources for themselves. He also sees a new version of the Outer Space Treaty as a way to stop the militarization of space.

He wants the U.N. to seize all land on Mars and put it into a trust for future generations to enjoy; that trust could later be used as a model for all real estate on every celestial body in the sky, according to Mars.Sale.

“We see the current Space Treaty being dropped because it’s no good for Space Commerce”

What do you think? Should companies and private individuals be able to own land on Mars?

[Image via ThinkStock and Photo by NASA/Getty Images]