Richard Garriott, an American space tourist, computer game entrepreneur, and son of former Astronaut Owen Garriott, is now living onboard the International Space Station for 10 days. He paid Space Adventures, the U.S. company who contracts with the Russian Federal Space Agency, $30M to train, transport him, and return him to Russian soil.
The title of “space tourist”, even though he is paying his own way, seems not quite right since he is very busy conducting research and supporting education projects in collaboration with a host of ground-based partners. This mix of commercial space, grand adventure, space research, on-orbit education, international collaboration, and space advocacy can benefit all the participants involved.
Garriott could be an inspiration to the space tourists to come, who will initially journey on U.S. suborbital aerospace vehicles for a significantly lower ticket cost. With some forward thinking, they can likely form partnerships that will allow others to share in their adventure, including some young space explorers and entrepreneurs of the future.