Archive for Saturday, September 29, 2007

Former astronaut’s son buys $30M space ticket

September 29, 2007

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— The son of a retired astronaut is about to follow his father into orbit, after buying a $30 million ticket for a seat on a Russian rocket.

Richard Garriott, who made his fortune in computer games, is scheduled to blast off aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan in October 2008 on a one-week trip to the international space station.

His father, Owen Garriott, 76, spent 59 days aboard Skylab, America's first space station, in 1973 and flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1983.

It will be the first time a child of an American astronaut rockets into space.

In Russia, sons have followed their fathers into the cosmonaut corps three times, and one is slated to go to the international space station next spring.

"My dad was an astronaut so I grew up believing that space was going to be available for everyone at some point in the future," Richard Garriott told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. "But I realized that the NASA method was a statistical improbability. If I was going to get a chance to go myself, it would have to be through private space travel."

Garriott is 46 and lives in a medieval-style mansion in Austin, Texas, complete with its own dungeon and secret passages. The house is modeled after the setting of his "Ultima" video games.

He plans to dedicate much of his time in space to science, engineering and educational projects. A biotechnology company co-founded by his father, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, will send up protein experiments for him to work on.

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