O. Garriott: Millionauts Can Conduct Experiments Easier Than Astronauts

Father-and-sonauts Owen and Richard Garriott have penned a story for Popular Mechanics in which they discuss the experiments that the latter performed on the International Space Station. Owen writes:

Like astronauts, Richard was involved with scientific research, in collaboration with state agencies including NASA, the European Space Agency and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, as well as nonprofits like the Nature Conservancy. He grew crystals, took photos of Earth to be used by scientists to study climate change and catalogued the his body’s response to weightlessness.

Because he was able to make his own schedules and plan his activities during the flight, he fit in over 15 science experiments in 10 days on the ISS. Government agencies have all kinds of political intrigues and hurdles that come into play when spending taxpayer money. When you’re flying privately, one of the great freedoms is that you can tackle any problem you want. You’re spending your own money, so you don’t have to debate.

Interesting. You would think that after $100 billion and 10 years of flight experience, the space agencies would have a smooth system down that enables full-time astronauts to grow crystals, take photos, and study human adaptation to weightlessness. This is precisely what the orbiting laboratory was designed to do.

Then again, he might have a point. NASA and Roskosmos have been squabbling over who the use of exercise equipment and toilets in different parts of the station.

If Owen is correct, this station thing doesn’t sound like a very good return on investment for taxpayers.

Read the full story.