Francis Williams and his wife Sue claim to have raked in £4million in four years – by selling land on the moon. As well as offering lunar landscapes, the Williamses trade in plots on other planets, including Mars and Venus. Only this week astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warned that mankind would have to leave Earth and colonise space if it was to survive.

The Williamses couldn’t agree more. Their company, MoonEstates, brings in more than £1million a year selling a foothold on the planetary ladder – for £20 an acre. The couple were granted the rights to sell off the moon by American Dennis Hope, who in 1980 exploited a loophole in the U.S. legal system to lay claim to owning every planet in the solar system.

He cited the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which states that no government or country can own land in space. It does not however, outlaw individual claims to territory. So Mr Hope filed a declaration of ownership with the United Nations General Assembly and the U.S. government. The Williamses were offered the sole British rights to the moon after buying their own lunar plot from Mr Hope.

They earn around £2 for every £20 acre sold, with the rest going to the original American franchise.

In the past four years they have sold 200,000 acres, netting a £400,000 profit. They make another £200,000 a year selling merchandise such as T-shirts and certificates.

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