Garriott: I own a piece of the moon

Garriott: I own a piece of the moon

By Rob Crossley

March 29th 2010 at 11:01AM

And now the Tabula Rasa project lead wants to follow in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong

Space-venturing game developer Richard Garriott believes he owns a part of the moon – because a soviet rover he bought years back was discovered on lunar surface.

Garriott, the project lead behind NCsoft’s abandoned MMO Tabula Rasa, shot to fame when becoming the first game industry professional to be shot into space.

In 2008 he paid a reported £20 million to become the first British-born space tourist, but fifteen years prior to this he satisfied his curiosity with outer space in another way.

In 1993 Garriott purchased a soviet-built space rover called the Lunokhod 2. The vehicle is an eight-wheel surveillance rover that was placed on the moon back in 1973, but for over three decades had been lost on the distant lunar surface.

That is until last week, when the vehicle was spotted by Nasa Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter for the first time in 37 years.

Now a jubilant Garriott says he technically owns a piece of the moon.

“I’m the world’s only private owner of an object on a celestial body,” he said, as quoted by national newspaper Metro.

“I’m the only private individual with a flag or stake on the soil of the Moon and, thus, at the least I might be able to make some claim to the land beneath it, if not even more territory.”

“My rover has travelled over 40km. It has tilled the soil or turned the soil with its wheels and has surveyed land as far as the eye can see – or as far as its cameras can see.

“Surely my claim is far better than that of people selling lunar plots?”

Garriott now wants to be one of the only few people to tread the moon’s surface.

“When I made the acquisition, I thought the probability of going to the Moon and seeing my rover was as close to zero as would be reasonable to consider.

“The odds are considerably greater than zero now,’ he said.

Garriott ventured into outer space back in 2008 after paying a reported £20m - allegedly the entirely of his personal fortune, amassed after the founding of his Origin studio (sold to EA in the early 90s) and investment in NCsoft - to conduct experiments in outer space.