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US businessman makes $9m selling lunar real estate

Still eight billion acres up for grabs

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An apparently unnoticed loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty has allowed a businessman from Nevada to spawn a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre.

Dennis Hope has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for over 20 years. So far, he says he has sold more than 1.6m sq km (400 million acres) netting him $9m (£4.5m). A further eight billion acres are still up for grabs.

Unsurprisingly, no government has yet recognised the lunar sales as legally binding, dispelling speculation that maybe the moon was in fact made of money, and not cheese as previously thought.

Proposed plans to mine huge reserves of helium 3, which are in abundance on the moon and could potentially solve our planet's energy crisis, have heavily contributed to this renewed interest in our nearest celestial neighbour.

The next leg of the space race - to exploit the Moon - was further fueled by President George Bush in January 2004 when he announced the US would return to the Moon by 2017. He said he aimed to establish a long term lunar base by 2020. Curiously enough, this announcement came the day after China announced it was sending astronauts to the moon. ®

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