I don't know if you've ever flown Aeroflot, but I am told that on some of the flights you get benches rather than seats--which is why I am rather admiring of Richard Garriott's courage.
Garriott, a video game developer from Austin, Texas, is spending a reported $35 million to get shot up in a Soyuz, according to Reuters.
He says he isn't scared. That's despite the fact that a South Korean lady, who became a Soyuznik in April, complained that she thought she was going to die upon re-entry. Her no-doubt highly sober captain apparently re-entered the capsule into the Earth's atmosphere at a rather unfortunate angle.
Parts of the module became smithereens, and the crew seems to have experienced the space equivalent of the bends.
Garriott is the son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott. And the younger Garriott is about to enjoy 10 days in space before, hopefully, returning to Earth in a three-man re-entry vehicle.
The thing is, this vehicle might not get a wonderful Carfax rating.
Its last two landings have been less than optimal. Both times, explosive bolts, which are supposed to detonate before re-entry, failed to do so. Insain, rather than Usain Bolts, clearly.
Nonexploding bolts cause what are known as ballistic landings (the name does not appear to refer to the passengers' mood during one of these returns to Earth).
"I am convinced the probability of a ballistic landing in my case is significantly reduced," Garriott told Reuters. "But if it were to occur, I am physically and mentally well-prepared for it."
You might be wondering why Garriott is not using some family influence to take a ride on a NASA vehicle. Apparently, his poor eyesight prevents him from participating in the U.S. program.
Whereas the Russians, having sent a dog up in space, seem perfectly happy to send those with merely diminished vision and surplus cash.
Garriott will need all his visual powers on his trip. His job will be to photograph environmental movements. Let us hope that he doesn't suffer from any other untoward movements while he is floating in the firmament.
Perhaps, too, he will have time to photograph what is going on at the Russian/Georgian border.