October 21, 2008

Space Tourist Voices Satisfaction With Ongoing Journey

Recent space tourist and video game mogul Richard Garriott said his trip to the space station has been well worth the $30 million he paid for the journey.

Richard, son of Owen Garriott who spent 60 days on NASA's Skylab station in 1973, made the announcement from orbit on Monday as his 12-day trip into space began to come to an end.

He said he felt fulfilled even before he rocketed away on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Oct. 12, thanks to all the training he got with astronauts and other space professionals.

"Of course, it's been great icing on the cake to actually take the rocket ride, which was very exciting, and, of course, the view from up here is spectacular," he told reporters in a news conference.

Garriott also mentioned the joy he experienced from being able to share the experience with his father, who applauded as he watched the docking from Russian Mission Control outside Moscow.

"That's been a real joy, not just talking to him here from space, but this whole year we've actually spent working together for this flight," said the 47-year-old Garriott. "It's been a great opportunity for us to bond, so to speak, as adults in ways that we haven't had a chance to do in many years."

Garriott, who lives in Austin, Texas, and goes by the gaming moniker "Lord British," is the creator of the Ultima computer game series. His most recent business with brother Robert, Destination Games, merged with a South Korean gaming giant, NCsoft. Garriott is an executive producer of the American branch, NCsoft Austin.

Attention was also set on the space shuttle Atlantis, whose mission was delayed until at least February for a trip to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Atlantis was originally scheduled to blast off this month on a mission to make various repairs and upgrade the telescope. But the Hubble broke down three weeks ago and stopped sending pictures, forcing NASA to figure out what went wrong and delay its mission until next year.

The 18-year-old Hubble has been unable to send back pictures of the cosmos since Sept. 27. Flight controllers tried unsuccessfully to get a backup system working last week, and may make another attempt later this week.

Shuttle Endeavour, now at the front of the flight lineup, will be moved from its launch pad to Atlantis' spot this weekend. Endeavour will carry seven astronauts to the space station on an equipment delivery mission; launch is targeted for Nov. 14.

That trip will enable NASA to double the number of astronauts living at the orbiting outpost, from three to six. That transition should occur next spring.


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