"Psst! Do you want to buy three square miles of land for £12? Uninterrupted views, no planning permission required. But bring your own air - and a rocket; the land is on Mars and the space-estate agents say they are doing a roaring trade..."
Dennis Hope is the owner of one of these estate agencies. His business card reads "Head Cheese", and he and his eight employees have a very formal address: Lunar Embassy, Rio Vista, California. If you ask nicely, he will sell you land on the Moon. And on Mars too, if you want. So far, he says, more than 25,000 people around the world (including Hollywood celebrities and two past US presidents) have bought 2,000-acre plots of land on the two heavenly bodies from him at $19.95 apiece.
Why is the 49-year-old Mr Hope, a former car salesman, ventriloquist and shoeshine boy, doing this? Because, he says, he has the ownership and control of the land: he claimed it in 1980, and though the United Nations prohibited any nation from laying claim to celestial bodies, it said nothing about individuals.
What happens when spaceships like Mars Pathfinder land? “That's on my property right now," says Mr Hope. “But ... we consider these areas celestial reserves so nobody can own them to charge landing fees." NASA is no doubt grateful. One question remains: why is his official title "Head Cheese"? "Because when I was a child I was told the moon was made of cheese," he replies. Logical, really.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1.- Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Write down the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.
a) Spaceships and oxygen are included in the price of the extraterrestrial land.b) Only American people own land on the Moon and Mars.
2.- In your own words and based on the ideas from the text, answer the following questions.
a) Why can Dennis Hope sell land on the Moon and on Mars? PAR.2-3b) Can anybody land on Dennis Hope’s territory? Why? PAR.4
II. USE OF ENGLISH
3.- Find the words in the text that mean.
a) sights (paragraph 1) > viewsb) prosperous (paragraph 1) > roaringc) forbade (paragraph 3) > prohibitedd) heavenly (paragraph 4) > celestial
4.- Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of the word in brackets when given.
a) In the last two years, people have bougt (buy) 60,000 square miles on the Moon. But only 15,000 on Mars. Of course, Mars is farther away than the Moon.b) In 1980 five nations signed (sign) a UN degree about “no individual making profit from celestial bodies.” The US was not with them.c) Those who buy land also receive a Martian Bill of Rights and a site map. What else can you ask for?