September 18, 2008 —There are leaders and there are followers. And then there is Richard Garriott.
On October 28, the well-known video game programmer will become the sixth civilian to fly to the International Space Station on a Soviet Soyuz capsule. But he will become America’s first “second generation” astronaut, following in the steps of his father, Owen Garriott, a former NASA Skylab astronaut.
Garriott will also follow the lead of Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan and teach interactive lessons before, during, and after his spaceflight to motivate and inspire students through the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. The center was founded in 1986 by families of the Challenger 51-L crew.
When Garriott is in space, he plans to record demonstrations of several science experiments students can do at home or in their classroom. After conducting one of the experiments, students can predict what will happen when Garriott does the same experiment in the weightless environment of space by submitting a prediction via video for the Center’s YouTube site.
But there is more. A Sports in Space Science Challenge sponsored by former NFL player Ken Harvey asks students, “What happens when you block an opponent on Mars, leap for a reception on the Moon, or throw a tight spiral on the space station?” The interactive online game lets students to try throwing a football, catching a pass and blocking an opponent in the 1G environment of Earth, the 1/3 gravity of Mars, and the 1/6 gravity of the moon.
The website also contains an engineering design challenge, with students designing a tall structure and applying a force such as wind or shaking to show it can survive, as well as interactive Webcasts, audio blog podcasts, student blogs and more.
In addition, Garriott will conduct a physics experiment while aboard the space station as part of an educational initiative sponsored by DHL. The experiment involves two vehicles of different mass, racing on a fixed loop-the-loop track. The vehicles will be propelled with equal force and students at the DHL Innovation Center in Bonn, Germany will be asked to predict what happens - will the vehicles complete the course at the same time, or will one be faster than the other? The students whose test results are most consistent with the experiment’s actual outcome will receive awards.
Garriott’s flight, organized by Space Adventures, Ltd., is estimated to cost $30 million.
Now that’s a house
Richard Garriott may be known to many for the video games he has created. But in Austin, Texas where he lives, he’s known for his home.
Britannia Manor features an observatory, secret passages and a dungeon, and is modeled to resemble the setting of his Ultima games. It also contains many collections of rare artifacts that revolve around his wide variety of interests in space, science, magic and natural history, including 16th century weaponry and mummified objects.
While his home is closed to the public, you can see it here on MTV.
Richard Garriott gets a feel for weightlessness as he prepares for his October 28 trip to the International Space Station.
Garriott completed survival training as part of his astronaut training in Russia.
Garriott also learned water survival, in case the spacecraft landed in the ocean on its return to earth.