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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Moon real estate on sale in China
Moon crater
Lunar Embassy sells land on the moon - and provides certificates
People in China now have the chance to "buy" land on the moon, according to state media.

Cashing in on China's current space fervour - its second manned mission has just returned to Earth - US firm Lunar Embassy has opened a base in Beijing.

Land is being sold for 289 yuan ($37) an acre, the China Daily reported, and customers will receive a special certificate to prove their purchase.

Lunar Embassy has already sold parts of the moons to thousands of customers.

But no government has yet recognised such sales as legally binding.

'Novelty gift'

The area up for grabs to Chinese customers is between 20 and 24 degrees latitude north and 30 to 34 degrees longitude west, Li Jie, a spokesman for Lunar Embassy, told the China Daily.

I have 3.5m customers, including ex-US presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and movie stars who have purchased land on the moon
Dennis Hope, creator of Lunar Embassy
Ownership of the land includes the right to the use of its mineral resources up to 3km (1.8 miles) underground, said Li Jie.

"We define it as a kind of novelty gift with the potential of unlimited increase in value," he said.

Lunar Embassy was set up in 1980, by US entrepreneur Dennis Hope.

Mr Hope believes a loophole in the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty makes his property sales legitimate.

Although no country or government can lay claim to extraterrestrial land, the treaty makes no mention of individual or corporate ownership.

"I have 3.5m customers, including ex-US Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and movie stars who have purchased land on the moon," Mr Hope is reported to have told a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

But UN lawyers say Lunar Embassy's claim on the moon is without merit.

China is the eighth country to have a Lunar Embassy office, according to the China Daily - after the US, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Shenzhou VI, China's second manned space flight, successfully returned to Earth on Monday.

Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng orbited the globe for five days.


SEE ALSO
China outlines next space goals
17 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's vision for new space age
08 Jul 04 |  Science/Nature

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