When it comes to citizen space travel, Richard Garriott de Cayeux doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk (or space walk?)…um…Let’s just say he knows of that which he speaks.
A genuine “citizen astronaut”, Richard is the 6th private citizen to travel into space (above that critical altitude of 62 or so miles), and, he’s also the 483rd person to orbit the Earth. What’s more, as a software engineer, he has worked on International Space Station software to aid in scientific Earth observations, amongst several other-space related accomplishments.
This impressive citizen space track record is not so surprisingly, when you consider his pedigree: Richard is the son of Skylab (remember Skylab?) and Space Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott. A great many of us spent our youths absorbed with images and fantasies of space flight and space walks, Moon landings and shuttle repair missions (also, dinosaurs!), but, as Richard points our, the vast majority of us would grow up to pursue normal jobs…
However, growing up with an astronaut father — in a house surrounded on three sides by other astronaut neighbors — gave Richard a unique, if “normalized”, perspective on this childhood fantasy:
“Going into Space was a rare thing you aspire to…but for me…it was something everyone in my neighborhood just did.”
A self-confessed “true believer” in the citizen space movement and the grand promise of private space flight (currently only available to the privileged few), Mr. Garriott seeks here in part to confront the skepticism towards the citizen (private) space movement — sometimes also equated with space tourism — but perhaps a skepticism that is also characteristic of our times.
And with that, it’s time to watch Richard Garriott de Cayeux give an inspiring and deeply interesting talk (speaking at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX) on where we’ve been, where we are now going (the present-future of space flight), and why we must go.
(note: If the video stalls, click on this Youtube link to view)
Source material for this post came from the Citizens in Space blog post: ‘Richard Garriott: The New Golden Age of Human Spaceflight‘
Top photo: Richard Garriott (credit: NASA)