Space tourism firm Space Adventures announced that Ultima's notorious "Lord British", Richard Garriott , son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, has begun preparations for a "commercially active" mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Mr. 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.
"It has always been Space Adventures' goal to open the space frontier. Now, with Richard's flight, we have designed a series of missions devoted to increase commercial involvement in manned space missions", said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. "It is a very rare occasion when so many commercial opportunities are available in one space mission. We encourage interested parties to contact us."
"I am dedicating my spaceflight to science" said Garriott. "It is my goal to devote a significant amount of my time aboard the space station to science, engineering and educational projects. 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."
The first commercial research partner involved in Mr. Garriott's mission is ExtremoZyme, Inc., a biotechnology company co-founded by Owen Garriott. 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. Having access to these superior crystals will enable researchers to learn more about the molecular details of these proteins which is essential for protein engineering and structure-guided drug design.
"Because of my career, it was almost natural for Richard to be interested in space and exploration. 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" said Owen Garriott, Richard's father and former NASA astronaut (Skylab II/SL-3, STS-9/Spacelab-1).
Garriott has set up a web site to blog his space adventure. "I want to involve as many people as possible in my mission", he said. The site (available through the downloads tab) will be updated continuously with photos and blog entries and individuals can submit questions and suggestions for Garriott's mission activities.