SCOTT SIMON, host:
You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. If soaring real estate prices have dashed your dreams of owning a home, you might want to consider purchasing land on the moon. A company called MoonEstates, based in Cornwall, England, sells plots on the lunar surface for about 20 pounds, or just under $40. They've made a good business of it too, moonraking in close to eight million dollars since the company began. Sue Williams and her husband Frances own the company. Mrs. Williams joins us now from Cornwall. Thanks so much for being with us.
Ms. SUE WILLIAMS (MoonEstates): You're very welcome. Nice to be here.
SIMON: I must say, I did not see a picture of you standing next to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they planted the Stars and stripes on the surface of the moon, so how do you guys get off selling the moon?
Ms. WILLIAMS: Well, basically a very bright chap in America called Dennis Hope actually realized that there was a loophole in the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. That basically says that no country or government can lay claim to the land on the moon, but they forgot to say that a person couldn't do it. So Dennis actually made his claim with the United Nations back in 1980. We bought some land from Dennis and that's how we sell land on the moon.
SIMON: Now how much land on the moon can I get for 20 pounds?
Ms. WILLIAMS: You get one acre, one square acre, which is quite big enough for a nice little homestead.
SIMON: Yes indeed. Well, I mean could I - if it comes to it, could I build something on there?
Ms. WILLIAMS: Yeah, certainly. Dennis is in the process of forming the Galactic Government, and they will be the people responsible for planning permission and all that sort of thing once we're all up there. So you just put in your planning application as you would at home.
SIMON: Do you own some real estate on the moon?
Ms. WILLIAMS: I definitely do, yes. Yeah.
SIMON: Do you and Mr. Williams ever dream of being able to go there one day?
Ms. WILLIAMS: We would certainly like to, and I honestly don't think that it's going to be that far in the future. I mean there are already people like Richard Branson of Virgin, who is sort of beginning to think about getting people up to the moon and doing space flights commercially. So I don't think it's going to be too long before that becomes a reality. I certainly hope it will be our lifetime.
SIMON: I've been told you also sell land on Mars.
Ms. WILLIAMS: That's correct. We sell land on Mars and Venus. Exactly the same price as the moon, just a question of personal preference. But obviously it's going to be a little bit longer before we can get to those places.
SIMON: Yeah. Location, location, location's the key to real estate.
Ms. WILLIAMS: That's right.
SIMON: Before you can get to that...
Ms. WILLIAMS: Yeah.
SIMON: Ms. Williams, I've got to tell you, you are the soul of enterprise, you and your husband.
Ms. WILLIAMS: I like to think so.
SIMON: I mean a lot of people would take a look at the moon and not see the commercial possibilities until, you know, decades from now. But you and your husband have figured out a way to start harvesting now.
Ms. WILLIAMS: The two of us have been together for 30 years and we like to do things that are a little bit different and bring a little bit of happiness into people's lives at the same time.
SIMON: Ms. Williams, awfully nice to talk to you.
Ms. WILLIAMS: And to you to. Thank you very much.
SIMON: Sue Williams, the co-owner of MoonEstates in Cornwall, England. And this is NPR News.
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