24 October 2008
News - Tourism (Good)
Garriott Returns to Earth
After keeping a busy schedule in space
by G B Leatherwood
Spaceflight participant Richard Garriot returned to the Kazakhstan steppes on October 24, after spending 12 days in space. Garriott, son of former astronaut Owen Garriott and therefore the first second-generation US astronaut, kept himself occupied during that whole flight. In fact, you may wonder how he had time to sleep.

Tasks included a series of experiments that examined the physical impact of spaceflight on astronauts, how eyes react to high and low pressure in a microgravity environment, and the effects of spaceflight on the human immune system.

On behalf of The Nature Conservancy Garriott photographed a number of ecologically significant places on Earth, pictures that will be compared with those taken by his father 35 years ago to document how the Earth has changed in just one generation.

In his “spare” time, Garriott worked in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) to perform a series of experiments that observed early detection of osteoporosis, vestibular adaptation to G-force transitions, and the occurrence of lower back pain.

He assisted the biotechnology company ExtremoZyme, co-founded by Owen Garriott, by conducting Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiments, an activity that can be done better in the weightless environment and that may have significant commercial potential. He tested a SEIKO Spring Drive Spacewalk Watch, specifically designed to work in the weightless environment that disturbs the working of normal wristwatches.

As if that weren’t enough, he conducted a physics experiment as part of an initiative sponsored by DHL, planned as an educational contest that will take place at the DHL Innovation Center in Bonn, Germany.

And what else was he doing while all these experiments were being conducted? Making videos of all his activities, talking via ham radio with students around the world, and preparing to return from his twelve-day "vacation."

He joined Expedition 17 crewmembers Sergei Volkov, also the first second-generation cosmonaut, and Oleg Kononenko, both of whom had spent six months on the ISS.

Oh, and yes, he must have found time to sleep somehow, because one of the many experiments he conducted was on astronauts' sleep/wake patterns and sleep characteristics.

Garriott will continue to share his experiences on his personal website, expanding on his time aboard the ISS and providing insights into his landing and return to Earth.
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G B Leatherwood 24 October 2008
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