Ultima mastermind Richard Garriott has been successfully launched into orbit, but contrary to popular belief it wasn’t done as punishment for Tabula Rasa.
Garriott will spend ten days at the International Space Station following the trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-13, which lifted off at 3:01 am EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The famed designer coughed up roughly $30 million for the opportunity to go into space, becoming the sixth “space tourist” to hitch a ride on a Russian spacecraft since Dennis Tito made the first such voyage in 2001.
He isn’t planning on being entirely idle during his orbital vacation, however. According to the BBC, he plans on carrying out experiments on behalf of several companies that covered a “meaningful percentage” of the cost of his trip, including one involving protein crystal growth, and also said he would like to take photos from orbit to record changes in the Earth’s surface since the trip of his father, Owen Garriott, an astronaut who spent 60 days aboard the U.S. space station Skylab in 1973.
Garriott took some ribbing for another experiment he announced this summer, Operation Immortality, in which he planned to collect the DNA of luminaries from across a wide range of human endeavor, ranging from Stephen Hawking to Stephen Colbert, and take it into space as “humanity’s saved game,” to serve as a failsafe against a planet-wide cataclysm. Garriott’s time onboard the ISS is scheduled to end on October 23.