Richard Garriott - Man on a Mission
January 11, 2012

Richard Garriott – Man on a Mission

Documentary Gives Backstage Glimpse At Space Program
Review by Lee Rannals for RedOrbit

Some people simply know how to spend money better than others, and Richard Garriott falls right in line with that category.

A new documentary opening on Friday, January 13, called "Man on a Mission" features Garriott in a film that could not be better titled.

Garriott became the sixth civilian in space after spending $30 million on a ride aboard Soyuz to the International Space Station.

"Man on a Mission" follows Garriott throughout the rigorous training he endured in Russia to prepare him to bring a childhood fantasy to life by becoming an astronaut.

Garriott's father, Owen K. Garriot, flew on the Skylab 3 mission in 1973 and held a world record for spending about 60 days in space.  After Richard's mission to space was a success, he became the 2nd second-generation space traveler and the first offspring of an American astronaut to go into space.

The documentary takes you inside a perspective that I have never experienced before.  From learning survival skills in the deep woods of Russia, to experiencing life on board the space station.

Richard spoke to me about what it was like as the Soyuz rockets erupted below him, sending him into a journey he would never forget.

After the countdown concluded, Garriott said "there are moments where they light up some of the most powerful engines that have ever been invented through humanity, that burn about the same amount of fuel you put in an overseas 747, and you burn it all in just a couple of minutes."

He said that despite what the outsider may perceive after seeing a launch, the real shock is how gentle the lift off is inside the Soyuz.

"The lift off is so imperceptibly gentle," Garriott said.

Garriott said in his interview with RedOrbit that viewing our blue planet from his window aboard the International Space Station was a memory he wouldn't forget.

"I found that looking out the window was by far the most impactful and ultimately life changing thing you can do in orbit," he told me in an interview. "The first big epiphany came for me when I saw part of the world that I knew myself very well by having travelled a lot, the Texas gulf coast, where I live.  When I saw the Texas gulf coast and the entire planet all in the same vista, it suddenly was this mental realization of I now know the true scale of the entire earth by direct observation."

In the film, Garriott shows off a rare glimpse inside the nearly 15-year-old space station, allowing viewers to see what amazing works can be done through international efforts.

As I write about the movie while onboard a plane at night, one thing Garriott told me about his experience sticks out when looking down below at the lights glistening across the Rocky Mountains: the Earth really is occupied by people.

"And only after many many more orbits, the next big epiphany for me was that every part of the Earth that you can see from space is fully occupied by people," Garriott said.  "It was really shocking how completely occupied that the Earth seems to be."

Man on a Mission will be releasing in New York City on January 13th at the Cinema Village, and then on January 20th at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.  Anyone who has ever been envious about what it´s like to spend time outside of our atmosphere will truly enjoy this documentary.


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