08/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dennis Hope: Nevada Man Claims Ownership Of The Moon, Challenges UN

Despite the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that was ratified by 98 United Nations states, including the US, and declared that the moon may not be claimed by any country, a Nevada businessman has been exploiting a loophole to sell plots of moon land since 1980, National Geographic News reports. Dennis Hope, who calls his company the Lunar Embassy Corporation, has sold land to around 3.7 million people now, and in 2004 even went to far as to establish his own government with everything from a constitution to a congress to a patent office to a currency called the 'delta', according to Nat Geo:

The fact that he's now claiming his Galactic Government has legal authority over the moon might seem problematic. But Hope said that the fledgling regime isn't a member of the UN and so doesn't have to abide by its laws.

Whether Hope can legally own the moon is a matter of interpretation, the space-law institute's Masson-Zwaan noted.

Although it's not spelled out, the spirit of the UN treaty is that it applies to governments and their private citizens, which invalidates Hope's claim to the moon and other celestial bodies, she said.

Hope apparently registered his claim to the moon with the United Nations in 1980, but when he never received any response he simply assumed the claim had been processed and was valid.

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