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Tourist arrives at space station

Civilian astronaut Richard Garriott, along with two crewmates, has docked at the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA 13 carrying Garriott, a video game designer who paid $30 million for a seat on the Russian spacecraft, arrived at the space station at 4:26 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time (08:26 Universal Time). Garriott is the son of astronaut Owen Garriott, who in 1973 was a crew member on the U.S.'s first space station, Skylab.

The elder Garriott nicknamed his son Peter Pan after watching him float via video link after he boarded the station. "I can fly!" Garriott told him, according to SPACE.com. "I'm sure excited so far."

Garriott, U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov entered the station at around 6 A.M. EDT (10:00 UT). The latter two will replace expedition commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko who, along with Garriott, will return to Earth on October 23.

Garriott and Volkov share a bond: both of their fathers were space travelers. Volkov's dad, Alexander Volkov, was a cosmonaut orbiting Earth when the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

Garriott is the sixth-ever space tourist, arranging the trip through his company, Space Adventures, Ltd.

The Soyuz launched early Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Garriott will stay in space for 10 days, participating in science experiments to see how microgravity affects his less than perfect, laser surgery–corrected eyesight; he also will snap 500 photos of Earth and deposit late-night comedian Stephen Colbert's DNA at the space station.

(Image of Richard Garriott, bottom left, and International Space Station crew members/NASA TV)

 

 

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