Still not on the moon: Bitcoin. "Le voyage dans la lune, en plein dans l'œil!!", a drawing by Georges Méliès of the vessel landing in the moon's eye in the film Le voyage dans la lune (via Wiki commons).

Despite claims, astronomers don’t see blockchain on moon

Blockchain startup Diana will let you stake a claim to a piece of lunar real estate, but the International Astronomical Union isn’t buying

Would you like to spend your bitcoin on a piece of green cheese to go with that bridge you own? A new blockchain startup is using the 50th anniversary of the moon landing to pitch a token divvying the surface of the moon into two billion plots—and that’s just on the bright side!

For as little as $1, the South Korean company Diana will let you stake claim to a portion of the moon on a permanent and immutable Ethereum-based Blockchain Lunar Registry. 

To be fair, Diana is not claiming to offer actual ownership of the moon with its DIA tokens. What it is doing is offering the right to stake a claim on its registry. The company is creating a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to create a framework for lunar land ownership.

The company says 1 DIA equals $1 in U.S. currency, and that more than 60 million have been issued on its website. It doesn’t appear on CoinMarketCap.

The goal, according to a release, is to “clearly define the possible rights of mankind to the Moon, given the increased possibility of ownership disputes, through collective registration.”

Citing the U.N. Outer Space Treaty, Diana’s white paper says, “[t]he moon, as part of mankind’s universal heritage, definitely cannot be owned by an individual.”

They’re right about that part, said Teresa Lago, General Secretary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

“As with any private or corporate undertaking to name celestial items without following the IAU procedures, the IAU dissociates itself entirely from attempts to sell the ownership of celestial objects and will not recognize this,” Lago said in an email to Modern Consensus. “[W]hat they are buying has no official recognition.”

The IAU has more than 13,700 members from 107 countries and is the only internationally recognized body able to name celestial bodies, following strict rules.

Even as a mapping exercise, Diana’s blockchain registry is “without official value,” said Lago, adding that this can only be done by an entity that is “internationally endorsed, recognized and/or tasked to do so.” Like the IAU.

Nor does a Diana plot bring naming rights, according to Lago. The IAU has said much the same thing about companies like International Star Registry, that offer the right to name a star. It records the name on its copyrighted star registry and registers them with the U.S. Copyright office. [Disclosure: Leo Jakobson a star named after him on their register.]

Of course, that doesn’t stop the IAU from getting in on the hype to drum up publicity for its own 100th anniversary. The organization in the middle of its own naming rights giveaway, NameExoWorlds, which gives each country on earth the right to name one exoplanet and the star it circles—and have it officially recognized by astronomers and organizations around the world.. 

A more down-to-earth use of the DApp and token being created by Diana would be using a blockchain as a land registry tool and to tokenize property ownership—something being vigorously pursued by the real estate industry and blockchain companies.

In February, research firm CB Insights published a report describing “How Blockchain Technology Could Disrupt Real Estate.” 

Property purchasing, due diligence, and title management are all areas where blockchain “could have a major effect on the real estate industry,” the report said. These rely on searching paper databases that lead to so many errors, many mortgages require title insurance. 

That’s a problem not found on the moon. At least not yet. 

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.