Russian spaceship blasts off with U.S. tourist

By | October 12, 2008

Photo U.S. business tycoon Richard Garriott b lasted off into space aboard a Russian rocket Sunday watched by his father, a NASA astronaut who went into space at the height of the Cold War.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppes as planned just after 1.00 p.m. local time (3 a.m. EDT).

Garriott, a video game developer from Texas, paid $35 million (20.6 million pounds) to fly into space alongside U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov.

After 10 days in space Garriott, whose father Owen Garriott is a retired NASA astronaut, will return to Earth with the ISS’s old crew aboard a Soyuz re-entry vehicle — a three-man capsule which has malfunctioned on its last two flights.

In April, a Soyuz capsule landed 420 km (260 miles) off course after explosive bolts failed to detonate before re-entry, sending the craft into a steep descent.

Last year, a Soyuz capsule carrying Malaysia’s first astronaut also made a so-called “ballistic” landing, similarly blamed on faulty bolts. – reuters

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