Space tourist to follow in astronaut father's footsteps
When video game mogul Richard Garriott travels to space as a tourist aboard an October Soyuz mission, he will be following in the footsteps of his astronaut father, becoming the first "second-generation" US space traveller, the dpa reported.
Garriott is to join US and Russian International Space Station Expedition 18 crew members on an October 12 Soyuz flight under a commercial agreement with the Russian space agency.
His father, Owen Garriott, set a then-record for time in space in 1973 with 60 days aboard Skylab, and the younger Garriott had also dreamed of becoming an astronaut but was held back by poor vision.
Instead he made a fortune in video gaming, and will spend millions of dollars - "a significant portion" of his wealth, he says - making the trip to space as a civilian to fulfil his life- long dream.
But his father will not be far from his mind, and will travel to the Russian mission control to interact with his son, Richard Garriott told reporters at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston on Wednesday.
"My father was not shocked at all to see me pursuing this," he said.
Owen Garriott also conducted the first ham radio communication from space to Earth nearly 25 years ago, contacting his son, and Richard Garriott will repeat the feat, reaching his father back on Earth by ham radio, he said.
The trip will also have applications for Garriott's gaming design, and he plans to communicate with players of his multi-player games from space, including one that involves a science fiction space scenario.
Astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus and cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov, also travelling on the Soyuz, will remain aboard ISS as its next crew. They will be joined later by Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to live long-term aboard the ISS.