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The man who bought the Moon

Video game designer and avid space enthusiast, Richard Garriott was profiled by National Public Radio (NPR) this past week. It wasn’t for his game production skills; the creator of Ultima and producer of City of Heroes, City of Villains and Tabula Rasa was noted because a junker car he bought in the 1990s that had been missing for years had finally been found – on the Moon (yes, The Moon … Luna).

That “junker” is the Lunokhod 2, a Soviet-era space exploration vehicle was abandoned by the USSR space program in 1973 after it broke down during one of its missions.

In 1993, for $68,000 Garriott bought the Lunokhud 2 vehicle at an auction at Sotheby’s in New York.  At the time, that purchase was widely derided in the international press as an embarrassing showing of American hubris – especially because the lander/rover was lost and unseen for decades.

Unseen, that is, until earlier this month when a team at the University of Western Ontario, using photographs from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter,  discovered the rover – after 37 years of being lost in space.

But now that it’s been found, Garriott has no interest in returning the rover to Earth.

A true Heinlein-esque capitalist, he says the rover is much more valuable as a stake of claim on prime Lunar real estate. And, he says, international treaties back this claim up. You can hear more about this in this attached audio link.

For a transcript:

http://ww.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=124956591

Here’s an interesting bit of tivia: This was not Garritt’s first brush with space.

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The son of Owen K. Garriott, a NASA astronaut who spent more than two months in space back in the 1970s, the younger Garriott instead made a name – and a fortune – for himself in entertainment gaming software. In 2008, some of that high-tech fortune was spent paying the Russian space agency to take him up on a trip to the International Space Station in 2008 – making Richard the first second-generation man in space.

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David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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