Title:KAZAKHSTAN: U.S. space tourist blasts off in Russian rocket
Date:13th October 2008
Summary:VARIOUS OF ASTRONAUTS RELATIVES AND OFFICIALS WATCHING FROM OBSERVATION PLATFORM
SPACECRAFT TAKING OFF
Embargoed:28th October 2008 12:00
Story Text: U.S. video game magnate Richard Garriott blasted off into space aboard a Russian rocket on Sunday (October 12) 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 in clear weather from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppes just after 1.00 p.m. (0700 GMT).
Garriot, a video game developer from Texas, paid $35 million to fly into space alongside U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov.
Garriott's father, Owen, watched the blast off on an observation platform alongside Garriott's girlfriend, Kelly Miller.
Space officials said the Soyuz rocket had reached orbit safely and would dock with the International Space Station in about two days.
"Things have gone well and smoothly, it is a beautiful day and nice to have successful launch as we did," said Owen Garriott, a physicist who was selected as an astronaut by NASA for his scientific background. He spent 60 days in space in 1973 and another ten days in 1983.
After 10 days in space Garriott will return to Earth with the ISS's former crew aboard a Soyuz re-entry vehicle, a three-person 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.
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