October 27, 2008 / 3:47 PM / 10 years ago

Space tourism will weather market crisis: astronaut

STAR CITY, Russia (Reuters) - At over $30 million a ticket it is not cheap, but rich adventurers will still pay for a dream trip into orbit despite a global financial crisis, U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott said Monday.

U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott (R), Russia's cosmonauts Sergei Volkov (C) and Oleg Kononenko pose for a picture during a news conference at Star City outside Moscow, October 27, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Remezov

Three days after returning to Earth from a trip to the International Space Station, Garriott told a news briefing at Russia’s Star City space center that his journey had fulfilled a 30-year-old dream to fly into space.

“The launch of Soyuz TMA-13 was like a beautiful ballet. Strong, confident but also elegant,” the goateed 47-year-old said with a smile of the Soviet-era space rocket.

“I’m thrilled that after 30 years of work I have made it.”

Garriott, a video game businessman, paid more than $30 million for his 12-day trip to the International Space Station.

He is the son of a former U.S. astronaut and a board member in the company Space Adventures which sends space tourists into orbit.

And although world leaders and home owners have been worrying about what some observers call the biggest global economic crisis since the 1930s, Garriott said the space obsessed rich will still find the cash to fly into orbit.

“It’s possible that the client list will change as happens in situations like this,” he said.

“However the number of people who are still interested in, and capable of, flying into space is still lengthy and we believe we have plenty of opportunities in the next few years.”

Garriott, Space Adventure’s sixth space tourist, blasted off from Kazakhstan and landed back in the Kazakh Steppe Saturday with two Russian cosmonauts, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko.

Garriott said he was already working out plans for his next space adventure.

“Now that I’ve experienced an orbit, I believe I could put together a flight program which is even more useful and I believe I could put together a set of work to be carried out in orbit which would be even more valuable,” he said.

Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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