Clive Anderson meets the entrepreneurs who want to sell us chunks of the solar system.
Apparently it's possible to buy a one-acre plot on Venus for £14.25 plus registration fee. The fact that the planet is, and always will be, quite uninhabitable is missing the point.
You can do this because, on the 22 November 1980, Dennis M Hope, a former ventriloquist, went into the offices of San Francisco County and filed a declaration of ownership. He did the same for the moon and the eight remaining planets, duly set up a Lunar Embassy and started to licence others to sell plots. One, MoonEstates.com, describes itself as the UK's only extraterrestrial land agent. In the case of Mars, theres even a bill of rights written to negotiate possible land disputes between settlers and native creatures.
Over the course of the programme Clive Anderson hears the astonishing story of how this situation arose in the first place.
In 1967, two years before the moon landing, the internationally agreed United Nations Outer Space Treaty forbade individual countries from claiming celestial bodies as their own. There was great fanfare surrounding the accord. It was a dignified statement for the future, humankind and the stars. It was also drafted to prevent space becoming a theatre of war between the United States and the Soviet Union. But the committee that worded the treaty, meticulous in so many respects, forgot to include private individuals or firms. It took about ten years for the implications of this oversight to sink in.