On December 2, 1990, NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Cape Canaveral with a special payload on board: four different telescopes capable of peering at distant and unique astronomical targets.
The four telescopes, three that detected ultraviolet rays one that observed X-rays, never made it back into space despite making 231 observations of 130 unique astronomical targets.
While three of them have subsequently been put on display at the National Air and Space Museum, the fourth, dubbed the Broad Band X-Ray Telescope (BBXRT), was snatched up by a keen collector back in 2003 at an auction put on by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
And now, in a strange twist, it's landed on Craigslist with a price tag of a hefty $10 million.
"Can ship worldwide (no export restriction) in standard sea container," reads the listing.
The telescope is one of a countless number of precious NASA artifacts that have ended up in the hands of private individuals — many of whom have successfully resold them for millions of dollars. For instance, a long lost bag used by Neil Armstrong to collect samples during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 got snatched up for almost $2 million at an auction back in 2017.
Almost two decades after buying the BBXRT telescope, collector John Urciolo, CEO of a Potomac, Maryland-based aerospace contracting company, has been trying to offload the 1,800 pound slab of aerospace grade aluminum, electronics, and glass.
But he's in no hurry, as he told Futurism over the phone in a conversation that he specified we were not allowed to quote directly. Finding a fellow collector with $10 million to spare and access to an 18-wheeler can take time, if not over a decade.
For the last 18 years, the massive telescope has been carefully stored inside a shipping container mounted to a custom-made dolly, awaiting its new owner.
According to Urciolo's Craigslist post, the BBXRT remains the "largest flown space artifact privately owned," costing NASA an eyewatering $40 million to construct back in the day.
After eBay — which is still one of the most popular places to sell precious space artifacts — changed its policies largely in favor of the buyer, Urciolo decided he'd had enough.
That was when he turned to Craigslist, where he told Futurism he's gotten over a dozen replies.
While none of them have led to a successful sale of the BBXRT, Urciolo remains hopeful.
He even told Futurism we were welcome to publish his phone number and email address, presumably to improve his chances of selling the telescope once and for all. But we'll have to decline, and you can find those on Craigslist anyway.
"Please call me to schedule viewing and any additional particulars," Urciolo wrote in his Craigslist ad. "Will accept partial payment plus acceptable trade."
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