writes "Soyuz TMA-13 with ISS Expedition Crew 18 and Richard Garriott successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:01 UT (3:01 EDT). The Soyuz capsule will dock to the ISS in two days. Garriott will return to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members, Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko on October 23."
With the extra attention on this launch, the Russians have gone out of their way to say that the return of the Soyuz vehicle will be safe
, after a couple of different malfunctions
in the past year. Garriott is in space partly for recreation, and partly as a promotion for his latest MMO, Tabula Rasa
. He took with him a hard drive filled with information about humanity, as well as DNA sequences from Tabula Rasa players
and various celebrities (including Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking) to 'preserve' that data in case of a disaster on Earth. Garriott will also spend time running and participating in experiments
. Coverage of the Soyuz mission is ongoing at NASATV