Space tourism firm Space Adventures announced today that 'father of Ultima' and current NCSoft exec Richard "Lord British" Garriott, son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, has begun preparations for a “commercially active” mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Garriott’s spaceflight, currently planned for October 2008, will be the first in a series of missions that will accommodate commercial activity aboard the ISS. Involvement from the private sector can include scientific and environmental research and educational outreach programming.
“Because of my career, it was almost natural for Richard to be interested in space and exploration," said Richard's father, former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott. "I am so pleased that he is able to embrace this himself and that he is dedicating his flight to research. I am very proud of him."
Owen Garriott is also a co-founder of ExtremoZyme, a biotech company that is the first commercial research partner involved in Richard Garriott's space mission. The company plans to conduct protein crystallization experiments in space with proteins that have important cellular functions and are usually associated with common human diseases.
Newspaper reports from Korea had previously claimed that Garriott might be heading to the International Space Station at the behest of his employer NCSoft, possibly to promote upcoming MMO title Tabula Rasa, but this official announcement appears to have refuted those reports.
“I am dedicating my spaceflight to science. It is my goal to devote a significant amount of my time aboard the space station to science, engineering and educational projects.," Garriott says. "I understand the necessity for conducting research in extreme environments whether it is collecting microorganisms from deep sea hydrothermal vents to carrying out experiments in the continuous micro-gravity of Earth orbit.” He continued, “We need to be adventurous in mind and stimulate our intellects to answer today’s most daunting scientific questions and to invent tomorrow’s technological marvels.”