For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Former astronaut and long-duration spaceflight pioneer Owen Garriott, 88, died today, April 15, at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. Garriott flew aboard the Skylab space station during the Skylab 3 mission and on the Space Shuttle Columbia for the STS-9/Spacelab-1 mission. He spent a total of 70 days in space.
“The astronauts, scientists and engineers at Johnson Space Center are saddened by the loss of Owen Garriott,” said Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester. “We remember the history he made during the Skylab and space shuttle programs that helped shape the space program we have today. Not only was he a bright scientist and astronaut, he and his crewmates set the stage for international cooperation in human spaceflight. He also was the first to participate in amateur radio from space, a hobby many of our astronauts still enjoy today.”
Father and son astronauts Owen and Richard Garriott speak at the 2011 National Space Society International Space Development Conference. Owen Garriott spent 60 days aboard Skylab in 1973 and 10 days aboard the Space Shuttle in Spacelab-1 in 1983. His son Richard Garriott is a video game developer and entrepreneur who funded his own 12-day trip flying on Soyuz to the International Space Station in 2008. This talk was given on May 19, 2011. Note: Questions at the end were inaudible so were edited out; the answers remain.
SwRI’s Alan Stern and Owen Garriott argue for the viability of NASA’s commercial crew program in Space News:
Fortunately, concurrent with the shuttleâ€™s retirement, several commercial companies have the ability to launch payloads â€” and, with relatively modest modifications, even human-rated vehicles â€” into low Earth orbit (LEO). These include Boeing and Lockheed Martin through their United Launch Alliance joint venture, Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences, and one day not very far off might also include companies such as ATK, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin.
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.