Yesterday, Space Adventures, the world's first and only company catering to space tourism, blasted off yet another earthling, for a ten-day jaunt to the International Space Station. Richard Garriott, famous for developing the Ultima video games series, is the sixth passenger to be flown by the company, but the first ever offspring of a NASA Astronaut.
Richard's father, Owen Garriott spent two months in Space in the 1970's aboard Skylab, the first Space Station launched by United States. Richard, who had always dreamed of following his father's footsteps, but could not due to poor eyesight, was thrilled when this opportunity to fulfill his life-long dream came about.
Garriott and his two crewmates, US Astronaut, Mike Fincke and Russian Astronaut Yuri Lonchakov, will dock at the International Space Station on Tuesday at about 6.00 am PST. He will then spend the next seven days at the Station, before returning to Earth with two new crewmates, astronauts, Sergi Volkoff and Oleg Kononenko, who have completed their six-month stint.
While there, Richard will be conducting a number of experiments, including studying the impact of space travel on the human immune system, as well as, studying the sleep patterns of astronauts. He is also carrying the digitized DNA sequences (maps of the human body) of some of the world best minds and talents - ranging from physicist Steven Hawking to comedian Stephen Colbert. In addition, he is also carrying a list of the biggest and best human achievements and messages from random people from Earth. The mission of this drive, dubbed Immortality Drive is to leave a trace of the human culture and achievements for future generations, should something happen to Earth and it gets destroyed.
Though Richard is the Vice Chairman of Space Adventures, he had to fork out the full cost of the ten-day stay - a cool $30 mm US dollars and undergo the complete training which lasted almost a year, before embarking on the shuttle.
Encouraged by the popularity of the trips to the International Space Station, Space Adventures now has its sight set on the moon. It already has its first passenger, in Google cofounder Sergei Brin - who has plunked down the required deposit of $5mm USD towards the final trip, expected to cost $100million USD. To read more about Space Adventure and their future missions, check out their website: www.spaceadventures.com