In Honor of Father’s Day We, Reflect on America’s First Cosmic Family

Growing up in a household that revolved around galactic missions, rockets and NASA experiments, it’s no surprise that Richard Garriott formed an early and everlasting love of the cosmos. His father, NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, was one of the first six Scientist-Astronauts chosen to study aboard Skylab. During this mission, he spent approximately 60 days in space – a world record – and conducted extensive experimental studies of our sun and Earth resources.

Thirty-five years later, it was his father’s missions that inspired wildly successful video game designer and entrepreneur Richard Garriott to follow in his footsteps, traveling to space on his own dime with Space Adventures, becoming the first second-generation American in space and only the sixth private space explorer in history.

In 2008, Richard launched aboard Soyuz TMA-13 to the International Space Station. High above the Earth, Richard saw the world the way his father had and captured images of the same views. One can only imagine the cosmic bond formed from one generation to the next after seeing the world from the same perspective, just decades apart. Garriott said, “This mission to the ISS fulfilled a lifelong dream to experience spaceflight as my father first did 35 years ago; it’s an honor to be the first American to follow a parent into space.”

Garriott also participated in a number of experiments and educational efforts ranging from communicating with students from the Challenger Center for Space Science Education to working with The Nature Conservancy to photograph several ecologically significant places on Earth. The photographs were compared to shots taken by Garriott’s father to document how the Earth has changed in one generation.

“While in space, I had the opportunity to conduct scientific experiments and environmental research, but what was most rewarding was speaking to students. Growing up in an astronaut family, I firmly believed that every person could go to space, and now I have. I took this opportunity to inspire them with my adventure and let them know they can achieve their wildest dreams as well with hard work and perseverance.”

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate all our fathers have taught us – how to ride a bike, play catch, cook breakfast on Sunday mornings – but for the Garriotts, the bond between father and son extends far beyond Earth into the depths of space. Ironically, the vast emptiness of space became that which brought two people closer together.

Click to see’s compelling documentary about this father/son legacy:
The Garriotts: An American Legacy (Part 1)

The Garriotts: An American Legacy (Part 2)