Richard Garriot’s Excellent Adventure
ISS journey will be a busy one
by Carol Pinchefsky
Although most people who pay $20 million for an adventure vacation might want to relax and unwind during their journey, Richard Garriot, games designer and upcoming traveler to the International Space Station ( ISS), is not one of them.
During his 10-day stay, Garriot will be a busy man when he visits the International Space Station ( ISS). He described some of his activities at a press conference today.
So how will Garriot pass the time?
- Building a better protein crystal. Working on behalf of ExtremoZyme, a pharmaceutical company co-founded by his father, Garriot will be performing experiments to help learn about the molecular details of proteins.
ExtremoZyme is offsetting some of the cost of his flight to space. Garriot said, “I’m a big believer in going to space because I think it’s valuable to go to space. You can return a great deal of value from a mission. “
- Conducting experiments for NASA and ESA. (He’s also in talks to perform experiments for JAXA.) Although he did not describe the nature of these experiments, the ones done on NASA’s behalf will be performed on NASA’s equipment in the American section of the ISS. Likewise, ESA experiments will be done on ESA equipment.
- Blogging. Garriot is currently blogging about his training at richardinspace.com. He plans to continue writing on the ISS, so audiences can enjoy his adventures as he’s experiencing them.
- Playing games. Creator of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game Tabula Rasa, Garriot plans to virtually drop in on his players.
- Duplicating his father’s work. Garriot is the son of astronaut Owen Garriot, which makes him the world’s first second-generation astronaut. The senior Garriot took pictures of the earth from space, and Garriot will do the same in order to compare photographs. He plans to look for “urban impact and desertification and positive impact” like new forest growth.
- Hanging out. And not just in zero gravity. Garriot will be joining Sergei Volkov, the world’s first second-generation cosmonaut who is currently aboard the ISS.
Volkov is the son of Alexander Volkov, who was stationed on Mir at the time the Soviet Union dissolved. Garriot and he will leave the ISS together.
- Making a student’s dream come true. Right now, primary school students (ages 7 through 11) across the United Kingdom are competing to create the perfect science experiment. The winner will have his/her experiment performed by Garriot himself. (Garriot, born in England, is a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom.)
What he won’t be doing:
- Walking in space. Unfortunately, Garriot could not get a spacewalk scheduled for his trip. Also unfortunate: Garriot sports a Seiko watch designed for this very occasion, which will not have the opportunity to be tested.
- Worrying. The Soyuz rocket experienced a difficult and off-target landing in April 2008. But according to Garriot, “The changes to the rocket that have already been made. My confidence has increased in the reliability and safety of the vehicle. Ballistic reentry is nothing to be concerned about. It’s normal.”