Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott flew to space, deposited many gifts of spit, and thundered back to terra firma last week.
A Soyuz TMA-12 capsule containing Garriott and two other crew members landed safely in Kazakhstan at 9:37 a.m. Friday morning, according to a report by the Associate Press. "This is obviously a pinnacle experience," said Garriott to TV crews shortly after landing. "The ride up on Soyuz was phenomenal. What a beautiful machine. Of course, the international space station is astounding."
Garriott, now the sixth private citizens to venture into the dark void of space, forked over around $30 million for the unusual opportunity. The videogame designer launched into orbit earlier this month and traveled to the international space station. There he spent 10 days conducting a range of experiments, including some on behalf of different corporate sponsors who contributed funds to his trip. He also photographed the Earth's surface to note changes since his father, retired NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, last traveled to space 35 years ago.
Among his various tasks in orbit, the younger Garriott set out to preserve remnants of humanity in the event a violent cataclysm wipes out life on the planet. With Operation Immortality, he collected messages for the universe and DNA from a broad swath of the populace to deposit onto the station for safe keeping. The Escapist's very own section editor Susan Arendt even had the unique opportunity to have her DNA included among the bunch. Perhaps in the distance future she will be cloned and assimilated in Borg-like fashion into the great consciousness of whatever remains when our civilization eventually falters.