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Lord British on Personal Spaceflight 132

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
FleaPlus writes "The Space Review has an interview with Richard Garriott (aka "Lord British"), best known as the creator of the genre-defining Ultima series of role playing games. In the interview he talks about his current work as the vice chairman of Space Adventures, and his thoughts on private-sector spaceflight in general. It includes an anecdote about how he funded the initial Russian studies which opened the door for Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, and Gregory Olsen's flights to the International Space Station, but was unable to go himself after the late-90s stock market bubble burst."
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Lord British on Personal Spaceflight

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  • Sorry... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:32AM (#13319243)
    but that space ship out in the field in Ultima VII doesn't do anything, oh wait, what is this article about?
  • 200k (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lockefire (691775) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:38AM (#13319279)
    I think that 200k is a fair price. They do bring up some interesting points. If 10% of American's want to go there should definitely be a market...
    • Re:200k (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JonN (895435) * on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:47AM (#13319305) Homepage
      10% of American's want to go there...But can even 5% or even more even afford to? The biggest issue is cost, which is definatly not effective at this time.
    • Re:200k (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lockefire (691775)
      Well, there are 7.5 million [wsws.org] millionaires in the US with $11 trillion in assets who need to spend their money on something. This looks like a very good option to me and I think our upperclass would flock to it much like luxury cruising in the 30s.
      • Re:200k (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mnemonic_ (164550)
        A millionaire doesn't necessarily have US$1,000,000 of disposable income. After taxes, tending to his/her beach house, going to Europe, paying kids' tuitions and maintaining 3 SUV's, probably no person whose worth is below $2 million can afford a trip to space. The high life costs a lot, especially for those who can spare the cash.

        Most of those millionaires already have set their priorities on extravagant socializing and keeping up with the Joneses. Dear god, we can't appear middle class.
        • Money doesn't make you Upper Class, Money just makes you a richer-version-of-your-original class.

          It saddens me when I see all these $1m lottery winners on TV. It's not that they have won the jackpot, it's that they are all invariably, ignorant lower-class inbred pig-fiddling swamp-living hik looking idiots living in trailers. What a waste of $1m.

          Hmm, hang on, maybe it is all about the money...

          -Jar.
        • by ghjm (8918)
          Having a net worth of $1 million doesn't even mean living the high life. Picture a middle class household with an annual income of $60,000. They certainly can't afford a beach house and 3 SUV's, although they aren't missing any meals, either. Suppose Dad had a traumatic experience as a youth and tends to worry about money and retirement. Consequently, he's been saving $15,000/year since he was 25. (His neighbors, who live better than he does but pay $15,000/year on their second mortgage and maxed-out credit
        • by lgw (121541)
          A million dollars gives you just $50K/year or so conservatively invested, after inflation and taxes. Hard to have a very elaborate lifestyle on $50k/year, especially if you're buying your own health insurance.

          A million, if you're single, is about enough to let you tell your boss what you think of him, but it's not enough to retire early on if you have a family. It's a good start, though, and anyone can save that much in 40 years or so (depending on income), if that's your priority, and not be dependent on
        • by jcr (53032)
          Most of those millionaires already have set their priorities on extravagant socializing and keeping up with the Joneses.

          Actually, I find that that behavior is much more prevalent among the middle class than the rich, and even there, not many people bother. Most of the rich people I know (engineers who did well in the '80's and '90's) live quite modestly.

          -jcr
          • Living modestly is the KEY to becoming rich if one does it with salary. Only assets that accumulate wealth on their own can make someone rich to the point that they can live extravagantly, and most people that understand this, never would -- they'd reinvest their earnings into more income-producing assets.
      • Re:200k (Score:5, Insightful)

        by patio11 (857072) on Monday August 15, 2005 @02:46AM (#13319643)
        World Socialist News probably didn't mention that most of America's millionaires aren't rich, just comfortable -- they own their own house in a good neighborhood and have a retirement nest egg (honestly, if you have two professional incomes coming in its hard not to hit a million in assets sooner or later). That doesn't compute with "And now we can empty Suzy's college fund to blow $200,000 on a weeklong vacation for one in space! Whee!"
      • Back in the 30s and earlier it was a good thing to show that you were rich it earned you respect. Now if you are super rich then you need to live a more modest life and not show how rich you truly are because people will kidnap your family for ransom, and other nasty stuff. So rich people usually drive fairly nice cars, but not massive status symbol cars, and have good sized houses but not huge ones. If you were to saw a millionaire on the street you probably wouldn't know that he is a millionaire or jus
        • Somewhat off-topic: Kidnapping for money has vanished from the US, actually. The FBI is just too good at catching people who do it. Almost all kidnapping currently is sexually motivated and results in murder of the victim within 24 hours. But I agree that most millionaires in the US are not conspicuous about their consumption -- according to WSJ and Washington Post articles I've read they're notoriously tightwads.

          Incidentally, many millionaires *do* have 80k yearly incomes. Check out the magic of comp

    • sure, I want to do it. Sure it'd be cool to go on a space flight.

      but it's not $200,000 worth of cool to most people.

  • by phobos13013 (813040) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:42AM (#13319288)
    But the Russian answer was more interesting. They said something like, "Well no! To even see what would be involved with that kind of mission would cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars just to see how we would do it, then to actually do it would be millions more!" So, the door was opened.

    Of course the US says no way no how if its not our way its the highway. The Russkies say rather slyly, oh no we could never it would cost this much... We couldnt afford that, and come on who could our fine American friend? There is nothing that the right amount wont get you in Russia. Whether legally or illegally or that lovely gray area in-between. Some might call it corruption (i tend to call it that when its illegal or hazardous) but i like to call it the TRUE land of opportunity!
    • Of course the US says no way no how if its not our way its the highway...

      Well, maybe. I always thought it had more to do with the United State's wanting to stay on the High Road of space exploration and scientific research... into military technology (for the benefit of mankind, of course).

    • Well, of course Russia is more capitalistic than the socialist USA...
      • That's entirely the case. Russia nowadays completely trumps the half-hearted attempts of the States to be truly capitalist. Now, whether this is a good thing, or whether the relative moderation and of the American system is better . . . well, that's actually a rather long and extensive debate.

        This being Slashdot, then, flame on! :P
    • Why is it corruption to be open to new commercial ideas? To me it's more evidence that NASA is a fossilised bueuracracy. Of course the Russians being strapped for funds have a great motivator to be open minded, but still. That's sort of the point: if NASA was forced to operate with less lavish budgets, new possibilites might suddenly "appear".
      • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:22AM (#13319709)
        To me it's more evidence that NASA is a fossilised bueuracracy. Of course the Russians being strapped for funds have a great motivator to be open minded, but still. That's sort of the point: if NASA was forced to operate with less lavish budgets, new possibilites might suddenly "appear".

        Read the CAIB Report, specifically Volume 1, Chapter 5 [nasa.gov] Section 5.3 entittled "An Agency Trying to do Too Much with Too Little." The Board found problems with NASA... beurocracy is certainly a large part of it. A lavish budget is not.
        • The Board found problems with NASA... beurocracy is certainly a large part of it. A lavish budget is not.

          This is typical of blue ribbon panel reports: lets not cut to the chase and instead blame bureucrats and organization inefficiencies for a very simple bad decision. NASA is too big and can't focus any longer. The best thing that could happen is either breaking NASA up into smaller more focused agencies or eliminating all the cruft. Neither of these are going to be easy because allmighty funding is inv
        • "A lavish budget is not."

          The CAIB report is not gospel. It is just another bureaucratic committee coming from a different angle.

          It glosses over the fact NASA has spent over a $100 billion on the ISS due to both political interference and just plain bad management. The price tag just to keep the ISS and Shuttle going until 2010 and maybe finish ISS if they are lucky is $60 billion according to Mike Griffin's congressional testimony [spaceref.com] before he became administrator.

          By comparison he cites the total cost for th
  • by lightyear4 (852813) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:49AM (#13319312) Homepage

    His honor Lord British may not have been able to front the cash when the bubble burst, but the $200k pricetag is a cost that break the bank of most everyone. Relative to current launch costs (upwards of $500 million [spaceprojects.com] for STS), $200k is a hell of a bargain. Rutan and his Scaled Composites is merely one of many private space initiatives with an eye defiantly set on the future. Space offers extreme opportunities in manufacturing, research, power generation, medical studies, propulsion research, materials science, and a multitude of other investment possibilities. I fully expect R&D of today will within a decade become reality.

    We're at the very very beginning of an explosion of space-based enterprise; private spaceflight will be fueled first by corporate interests, and then, with costs more manageable for all, and only then, will the dream of visiting space be realized.

    I, for one, eagerly await that day.

    • Not really. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:53AM (#13319326) Homepage
      but the $200k pricetag is a cost that break the bank of most everyone

      I don't think so. 200k is well within the reach of many many Americans (and other nationalities as well). People here spend near that on collections of toys all the time, and at least in Western Washington State, 200k is well below the average price of a 3 bedroom house. People think nothing of financing a $70,000 car, add to that a nice boat, a vacation to some beach or Europe... 200k is peanuts.

      • i don't know what land of milk and honey you live in, but i'm quite well off and even i would have to go well into hooky to pay for a $200k space flight, and it would mostly be a debt that would take the rest of my life to pay off.
        • Well, don't try buying a house or car here in Wa state! But sure, not many can pull 200k out of their pockets, but it's not an astronomical number either.
        • Re:Not really. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Dunbal (464142) on Monday August 15, 2005 @01:29AM (#13319453)
          but i'm quite well off and even i would have to go well into hooky to pay for a $200k space flight, and it would mostly be a debt that would take the rest of my life to pay off.

                Then you're not "quite well off", are you? Let's not kid ourselves. Those who are really "quite well off" do not need to go into debt for this. The problem is merely one of justification, not financing.
          • Literate? Has health care? Owns a home and vehicle?

            Compared to most of the world, he's living a life of incredible ease.

            Compared to a handful of billionaires, he's struggling.

            As one of the people who aspires to maintain access to decent healthcare and housing, all I can say is that space tourism is comparable to the space-race insofar as the benefits it will provide me will largely be serendipitous. (Unlike those elements of the space program driven by research.) I will probably never be able to afford spac
        • If you have to go significantly into debt to get US$200K then you can't truly say that you are quite well off.

          Well off perhaps, but for quite well off then you'd be dropping $200K as a downpayment on a house or a cool car.
      • $200k is within so many people's reach for a house because banks will lend people money to buy one. It's a tangible asset they can take ownership of if the buyer stops making mortgage payments. Space flight isn't something that can be taken back and resold to pay off bad debt, it will be very hard to convince a bank to give you a loan for it.

        There are many *many* more people who can qualify for a $200,000 mortgage than can afford to blow $200k in cash on a space vacation.
        • With well over 7 MILLION millionares in the US, I don't see an issue with 200k.
          • Keep in mind its not particularly hard to be a millionaire.

            If you made $35k a year and bought a house ten years ago around here, you'd be a millionaire now.

            If you make $100k/year, and invest wisely, even lacking a real-estate bubble having $1m in assets isn't terribly hard.

            What would be VERY hard is being a millionaire and having $200k in liquid capital you can access easily and afford to lose.

            To afford $200k, you're talking about having a VERY large pool of investments where using it might be a percent or
            • I'm one of the people trying to build a company around this - and let me tell you, I would be overjoyed at getting 1% of the 7 million people. Work the numbers: 1% of 7 million is 70,000. 70,000 times $200,000 is $14,000,000. $14 M is plenty to finance the initial work - and then the price will come down!

              Personally, I don't think it will work that way. I think a lot of the draw to a space excursion is the fact that no one has done it before - once lots of people have done it, the market will fall off.
            • Well, it's just a matter of priorities. A million isn't enough to spend $200k on a whim, but it's enough to spend $200k on something quite important to you. Move into a smaller house, cut down on the toys, whatever. Assuming you're still working and have revenue to replace the earnings on that $200k, that is.
    • Space offers extreme opportunities in manufacturing, research, power generation, medical studies, propulsion research, materials science, and a multitude of other investment possibilities.

      Same old, same old. It doesn't really offer any of these things. Space isn't a magical fairy land where energy is free and the laws of physics are different. If anything, I think the various space stations have shown that there isn't anything particular exciting to make or research in space, just an awful lot of work, ener
    • > I fully expect R&D of today will within a decade become reality.

      I've been listening to this for decades already, but haven't seen much happen. Kistler? Beal? Roton/DeltaClipper? All nice tries, especially the last one, which - in the end - all went the way of the dodo. SS1? Well, a notable first step, but not yet much more than that.

      > I, for one, eagerly await that day.

      I'm sad to say this, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
    • His honor Lord British...

      'His honour'? He's not a judge!

      'Lord British' is a stupid name anyway, but if you're going to legitimise it by using the standard form of address, then either 'Lord British' or 'His lordship' (not both) would probably be the correct form.

      (And yes, I spell it 'honour' coz I am British, damnit!)

      Given which, it's probably an anticlimax to say that I agree with your main points :)

      • I think lightyear4 may have been trying to say "The honorable Lord British." Which is a perfectly appropriate form of address for a somewhat-but-not-extremely reputable individual like a member of the House of Commons, significant mayor, minor gentry, local elected cheese-grater, etc.

        I do not believe there has been much discussion among the peerage of the correct style and title of address for the dictator-for-life of a pretend kingdom.

        Also, I agree that, as a name, "Lord British" is just dumb on its face.
    • "Space offers extreme opportunities"

      You are really overstating your case for things to do in space. Its really bad to undertake something as expensive as space exploration with naive dreaming about the payoff.

      Their is a payoff in tourism certainly. Colonization on Mars has a payoff. Mining may eventually be worthwhile especially when Earth's resources achieve serious scarcity though that its a long ways off before the payoff justifies the enormous expense.

      The one thing space exploration offers is somewha
  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Monday August 15, 2005 @12:49AM (#13319316)
    First, I think the interview attributes spaceflight as part of the wrong Ultima. Ultima III has "underwater" activity, but it's Ultima ][ that uses the Russian rocket program and has the reference to his dad Owen Garriot looking for his shuttle. Ultima I has a small bit of space flight in shuttles. And of course someone will mention the crashed alien spacecraft in a farmer's field in the later Ultima, but that has even less to do plot wise other than being an in-joke about another Origin title.

    Richard Garriot has always been a hero of mine for his ability to make a cool game, feed his family, and pay for his computer education with his series of Ultima titles. Probably most others don't share this perspective. But even though I do regret the consumption of Ultima into nothing more than yet another corporate brand of Electronic Arts, I do have a small bit of nostalgia for the guy who created it even if the modern game does nothing for me today.

    It is cool to see someone spending their dot com bubble money on things other than fancy cars.

  • Now let's get out there and get killl us some Rathi.
  • TSR: Will you emigrate to space?

    Garriott: When I was young, I used to say that I would immediately take the opportunity to leave for deep space and never return. I still believe that. I'd want to be sure that my journey would be safe, and that it the journey was to achieve a worthy goal, but I would go in a heartbeat!

    But first he has to get that eighth part avatar and find out what the true axiom is.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Monday August 15, 2005 @01:00AM (#13319344) Journal
    He could have coded a backdoor into Ultima Online, and milked out hundreds of thousands of dollars of online gold. Just like Bill Gates has Skynet programmed on all windows boxes in case his plan for world domination ever gets out.
  • xXx (Score:1, Offtopic)

    Meh, get off the space ship and make us Autoduel II Rich!
    • That wasn't Lord British. That was Chuckles, in what I recall was his first solo venture (Wing Commander didn't come until a few years later).

      Anyways, Autoduel wasn't that great. A good Car Wars game would be awesome, though. Imagine the potential for destruction and mayhem on a modern PC, rather than the Apple IIe. I'd kill for a good, modern vehicle combat game.
      • That wasn't Lord British. That was Chuckles, in what I recall was his first solo venture (Wing Commander didn't come until a few years later).

        All right, we'll call it a draw [links.net].

        Anyways, Autoduel wasn't that great. A good Car Wars game would be awesome, though. Imagine the potential for destruction and mayhem on a modern PC, rather than the Apple IIe. I'd kill for a good, modern vehicle combat game.

        Yes indeed, it's a gaming concept that's long-overdue.

        '/snubs his nose at the topic nazis
      • I was hoping that someone would mention Chuckles. Thank you very much. :)
  • by dal20402 (895630) * <dal20402 @ m a c .com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @01:08AM (#13319373) Journal
    Sure, every rich joe (and plenty of joes who hope to become rich) will want to hitch a ride into space. But once they all have done it (and, yeah, I know that will take quite a few years), what happens next?

    Space tourism seems to me like it might end up being more of a fad than anything else unless we can make space an actual destination... in other words, space stations or bases on $celestial_body that can be used as resorts...

    (or at least really expensive restaurants... heh).

    • I think you just predicted the future, if this all works out.
    • It's a stepping stone. There's all these business models that you can do to make a profit, gain experience and drive down the price of space access which people are pursuing now. Everything from launching people's remains into space as a secondary payload (cheap to do, and LOTS of people will pay for it), to suborbital and orbital space tourism, to satellite constellation based radio, broadband access, and tracking. Then there's the guys at the top of the spectrum. Orbital Recovery [orbitalrecovery.com] are developing a spac
    • But once they all have done it (and, yeah, I know that will take quite a few years), what happens next?

      Space tourism seems to me like it might end up being more of a fad than anything else unless we can make space an actual destination


      What's wrong with a fad? It won't end there, time and ideas will march on once people know what to expect. History tells us that there are early adopters, then a critical mass becomes interested (which is sometimes denigrated as a fad), then enough people have experience to fi
    • We even have trouble defining the beginning of the universe, so please - don't plan for the end of it yet.
    • Sure, every rich joe (and plenty of joes who hope to become rich) will want to hitch a ride into space. But once they all have done it (and, yeah, I know that will take quite a few years), what happens next?

      Well, what do Hawaii, Cancun, and Paris do now that everybody who wants to has already visited?
  • well that's easy

    on the felucca shard there's a portal northwest of yew

    just watch out for the orc camp near there

    walk around the portal twice, then enter from the southwest

    voila: outer space
  • by Groo Wanderer (180806) <charlie AT semiaccurate DOT com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @02:07AM (#13319554) Homepage
    Two for the price of one, and it answered THE burning question with regards to Lord British.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=23377 [theinquirer.net]

    Strangely, after that fateful day by the pool last May, neither Garriot or Spector will get within 100 yards of me, restraining order or no.

                -Charlie
  • if he makes it into space eventually, will he be the first 2nd generation astronaut?

  • WTF? I thought 'e was dead.. did'nt I?!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_British#Assassin ation_of_Lord_British [wikipedia.org]

    cheers

    front
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:29AM (#13319720) Homepage
    In space, no one can hear you scream when you get assassinated -- again. :P
  • As any Ultima I player will tell you, it's easy: just steal a space shuttle and then outrun the guards.

    As long as this is so easy, nobody will pay for space flight.
  • Ugh, Lord British speaks out again.

    I guess where it Rainz, it poors.

  • And not made it so easy for people to duplicate gold and sell it online then he could've made it himself and funded the trip through an ebay account.
  • So to get a space trip, you'll have to spend 10 hours mining enough ore first right. Then get killed by some stupid monster anyway.
  • by mandrake*rpgdx (650221) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:49AM (#13321204) Homepage
    Yup. He was one of the first men to orbit the earth.
  • the "genre-defying series" of "role-playing games."
    Huh?

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

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