Next Soyuz tourist: Richard Garriott

Space Adventures announced this morning that Richard Garriott will be the company’s next customer to fly to the ISS on a Soyuz mission. Garriott’s flight is scheduled for October 2008, the next scheduled taxi flight with an open seat. Garriott is billed as the first “second generation” astronaut: his father, Owen Garriott, was a NASA astronaut who flew on Skylab and the Space Shuttle.

In the Space Adventures press release, Richard Garriott said that he is devoting his flight to science: “It is my goal to devote a significant amount of my time aboard the space station to science, engineering and educational projects. I understand the necessity for conducting research in extreme environments whether it is collecting microorganisms from deep sea hydrothermal vents to carrying out experiments in the continuous micro-gravity of Earth orbit.” He already has one research partner: ExtremoZyme, a biotech company founded by his father.

Garriott’s selection was not surprising given some of the rumors going around in recent weeks. As noted here earlier this month, the South Korean press had reported that Garriott might be the next space tourist. Garriott is the CEO of the North American division of NCSoft, a Korean gaming company, which had been rumored to bankroll any trip he might take (NCSoft isn’t mentioned as a sponsor in the announcement.)

And, as you might expect, Richard Garriott already has a web site devoted to his trip.

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