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29 Sep, 2008 06:12

American space ‘dynasty’ member heads for cosmodrome

America’s first 2nd generation astronaut is set to fly as a space tourist. 47-year-old computer games entrepreneur Richard Garriott, the sixth space tourist is history, will fly with the 18th mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 12.

Richard Garriott has moved from the training ground at Star City to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on Monday, with blast off aboard a Russian Soyuz space rocket.

“The real key is to never give up and when you find adversity, to develop a new plan, a new strategy to get around it. As you know, I’ve spent decades in pursuit of this dream. I’ve come very close many times in the past and I’m especially excited today, when it appears we are just a few days away from the launch,” Garriott said during the final media briefing before the launch.

Garriott will head into orbit alongside Russian Cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, and NASA Astronaut Michael Fincke.  Both are very experienced, with Lonchakov being the first person to take the latest modification of the Soyuz spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA, to space in 2002.

“The Soyuz spacecraft is a reliable vehicle, a decent one. We trust it, and it returns the favour in kind. This will be its 100th flight. But there are no special feelings – it is our job and we do it,” Yury Lonchakov said.

As soon as the main crew arrives at the cosmodrome, they will make their final preparations and conduct technical equipment checks.

For the first time there is also a space tourist as part of the standby reserve crew. Australian businessman Nik Halik has paid $3 million just to sit on a bench, but says he still eventually hopes to fly to space at a later date.

The backup space team also includes Gennady Padalka and Michael Barratt.