Richard Garriott, the 47-year-old creator of the Ultima series of computer games, has become the world’s sixth space tourist. His 11-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) cost US$30 million.
Garriott and ISS Expedition 18 members, Mike Fincke and Yuri Lonchakov, launched to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 12, arriving at the ISS two days later.
Born in Cambridge, England, Garriott now lives in Austin, Texas. He acquired the moniker ‘Lord British’ when he started school in the US, due to his British accent. His father Owen flew aboard Skylab and the Space Shuttle.
Whilst aboard the ISS, Garriott carried out crystal growing experiments, communicated with students and ham (amateur) radio enthusiasts; staged an art show; took photos of the Earth to be compared to ones taken by his father 35 years earlier and tested products for sponsors.
Garriott, who believes that everyone should have the opportunity to go into space, said he found the most rewarding part of his stay was speaking with students. He said, “I took this opportunity to inspire them with my adventure and let them know they can achieve their wildest dreams as well with hard work and perseverance."
Garriott also installed a device called SpaceCam1. This slow-scan television system broadcasts on amateur radio frequencies. Anyone with a suitable radio receiver and freely available software can receive and decode pictures from the ISS as it passes overhead. Enthusiast received over 1500 pictures in its first week of operation. For more details on how to receive these pictures, see this article on MSNBC.
Garriott and returning Expedition 17 members Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko landed safely in Kazakhstan on Oct 23. After the flight, Garriott said his mission to the ISS had fulfilled, “a lifelong dream to experience spaceflight.”