Richard Garriott -- More Than Just a Tourist

By Richard Mains, Posted 10/28/08

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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.

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Comment on "Richard Garriott -- More Than Just a Tourist"

From: Jeff Krukin, 04/27/09

Richard Garriott's success as a video game developer (now where have I encountered this before?) has given him the financial ability to visit the International Space Station in Oct. 2008 as the sixth private astronaut client of Space Adventures. Around Christmas 2008 we connected via Linked-in, and during our ensuing email conversation I was pleased to discover a man who was quite open about his space experience. Being the season, and with my interest in the Overview Effect, I asked Richard, "Does Christmas have a different meaning now that you've seen Earth from orbit?" His response was most illuminating. "Very interesting question! Before my flight, I was skeptical that the view from space would change me in the ways many have said it did. I have done many other unusual things and never had such an epiphany. My first view from space, while amazing was not what I would report as life changing. Also my impression and description feels different to me than I have heard others say. For example when you look to the horizon, you feel very high, seeing the thin veil of the atmosphere on the earth. When you look straight down, you only feel a few times higher than planes and can still see many familiar sites. But over time, you see weather patterns in a whole new integrated way. Then you notice the morphology of the earth and the results of plate movements. Then you see forest fires and clear cutting and river silt all modifying the land and air in mass. Then you notice that every fertile place on the earth is indeed full of the human footprint. So, over time, yes it completely changes your perspective of how we billions of humans impact and live on the earth!" Imagine the global impact when the NewSpace industry carries hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of human beings into space.

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