Press Release

First Second Generation Astronaut, Richard Garriott, to Perform Research while in Space in Cooperation with NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
October 2, 2008
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First Second Generation Astronaut, Richard Garriott, to Perform Research while in Space in Cooperation with NASA

Space Adventures’ orbital spaceflight client will participate in scientific research developed by NASA investigators

Vienna, Va. – October 2, 2008 — Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced today that their orbital spaceflight client, Richard Garriott, will participate in a suite of experiments in cooperation with NASA during his 10-day mission.

Mr. Garriott is scheduled to launch on October 12 onboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan en route to the International Space Station (ISS). He will be joining the Expedition 18 crew which includes NASA astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov.

“I am enthusiastic to participate in these experiments. As my father was a NASA astronaut, it seems fitting that I, as a private astronaut, also assist in their research as a continuation of my family’s contribution to the space agency,” said Richard Garriott.

“Space exploration is of critical importance to our future as a species,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures. “Through Richard’s gracious participation in these NASA experiments, he will be making an important contribution to the future of human permanence in space.”

Mr. Garriott will participate in three NASA experiments. The first experiment will study the current microgravity environment encountered by astronauts and how their eyes react to low and high pressure as well as variations in oxygen concentrations. Mr. Garriott will be the first space explorer to have had Photorefractive Keratectomy eye surgery, referred to as PRK. NASA has recently approved this procedures for their astronauts, but to date, none have been flown or have been selected who have had the procedure. NASA will examine his visual acuity, accommodation and refraction before, during and after spaceflight. There is reason to believe visual acuity might change on orbit, as inner eye pressure goes up by as much as 50 percent during spaceflights. This information will determine if an eye which has undergone a PRK procedure remains stable during a 10-day exposure to microgravity.

The second experiment will study the effects of spaceflight on the human immune system and validate monitoring tests for immune function in astronauts. The study will assess immunity during spaceflight by testing white blood cells for changes in function or response to stimulation as a consequence of spaceflight. This information may determine astronauts’ clinical risk during spaceflight. Previous data collected suggests that there is indeed a suppression of the immune system associated with spaceflight. Mr. Garriott will be contributing to this data pool, and since his mission will come mid-mission for some other astronauts; he will be able to return fresh blood samples from long-duration crew members, which has rarely been able to be sampled.

The third study will document sleep/wake patterns and sleep characteristics of astronauts. Normal sleep patterns and body chemistry are notably changed during spaceflight. The data collected may assist in determining the efficacy of ongoing countermeasures for space-related sleep disturbances and may also assist in developing additional countermeasures which could potentially impact the health, productivity and safety of astronauts during spaceflight.

About Richard Garriott:

Richard Garriott is best known as a key figure in the computer gaming field. He was one of the earliest and most successful game developers. Mr. Garriott developed the Ultima series which remains the longest running computer game franchise, and with his brother, Robert, he founded Origin Systems, one of the most respected PC game developers and publishers. Richard also created Ultima Online, which ushered in the new massively multi-player online (MMO) genre, the fastest growing segment in computer gaming today. More recently, he co-founded the North American arm of NCsoft, the world’s largest online game developer and publisher. Last year, his latest game, Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, launched in North America and in the European Union. For more information on Tabula Rasa, please visit For more information on his spaceflight, please visit

About Space Adventures:

Space Adventures, the company that organized the flights for the world’s first private space explorers: Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Greg Olsen, Anousheh Ansari and Charles Simonyi, is headquartered in Vienna, Va. with an office in Moscow. It offers a variety of programs such as the availability today for spaceflight missions to the International Space Station and around the moon, Zero-Gravity flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecrafts. The company’s advisory board includes Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, Shuttle astronauts Sam Durrance, Tom Jones, Byron Lichtenberg, Norm Thagard, Kathy Thornton, Pierre Thuot, Charles Walker, Skylab/Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev. For more information, please visit


Stacey Tearne
Vice President, Communications

Space Adventures, Ltd.
8000 Towers Crescent Drive
Suite 1000
Vienna, Va. 22182
+1 703 894 2192 direct dial
+1 703 524 7176 fax
+1 202 256 7917 mobile
Richard Garriott’s spaceflight mission web site:

SpaceRef staff editor.