Space Tourist Richard Garriott

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Mikhail Metzel / AP

Space tourist Richard Garriott waves before the final test in a mock-up of a Soyuz TMA space craft in Star City outside Moscow on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008.

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So we'd been sending photographs and video to the Colbert show during my training and we'd really gotten no response. Up until Operation Immortality, which originated purely as a promotion for [science fiction computer game] Tabula Rasa, thinking of it as a way I could tie my space game into my space flight. We wanted originally just to send some of the player data and player votes on the greatest accomplishments in humanity, and we thought it'd be cool to send some of their DNA. But what we found was that suddenly famous people from all over were going, Hey, can you take mine? We actually called the Colbert show because we thought aha, our opportunity has availed itself once again, and as soon as we called they were all over it.

Is your own DNA going up?
You know, strangely, one person we forgot to include was me. Of course, my DNA will physically be there; my skin cells will be on it. So you won't need to send my digital sequence.

Aside from leaving your DNA behind and aside from your official experiments, is there anything you've wanted to do in space that you hope to get a chance to do while you're up there?
No one's asked and therefore I've never said, but there is one kind of fun thing that I'm hoping I get a chance to do. When my father was on SkyLab, it had a big central chamber with this ring of lockers all the way around the perimeter; it was just big enough that you could run around and create enough centrifugal force to hold you against the lockers and have a little circular jogging track like in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm hoping to find a cross-section that is sufficient for me to pull that off on the ISS. Most of the areas are too small, but there may be a couple of modules that have gone up that don’t yet have experiment lockers in them. I'll report back when I get there.

You’re going up to the ISS for 10 days, and then you land, if all goes well. What do you do after that?
I am a devout explorer of the reality in which we live, so this is by no means my first exploration — but it’s a big one. It’s the biggest. But I still have on my list visiting disappearing indigenous populations around the globe, which I have yet to do, and Southeast Asia is still an area to me which is largely unexplored, and I still have a lot of things in the deep oceans that I hope to do. Plus, you know, I hope this isn't my only spaceflight.

You've spent a huge amount of money on this trip, a large part of your personal fortune. So far at least, is it worth it?
Absolutely. Even kids ask me, Wow, how could you possibly consider spending that much of your personal wealth on this particular event? And what people have to know is, it wasn't that I was looking for a place to go spend some money. It was that I was looking for a way to reach space.. And I've built businesses, and invested, and grown my assets to pull it off. And I've made it.

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