Astronauts, Owen Garriott, NASA

(November 22, 1930 – April 15, 2019)

Owen Garriott was one of the first scientist astronauts, selected as part of NASA astronaut Group 4. While the earlier intakes were chosen for their skills as test pilots, Group 4 were singled out for research and academic experience. NASA trained them as pilots independently. Garriott gained a Ph.D in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Selected for Skylab 3, Garriot’s first mission to space set a world record for duration of almost 60 days. He conducted three EVAs (space walks) for a toal time of nearly 14 hours during the mission.

Owen Garriott was Mission Specialist 1 for his second trip to space 10 years later on Space Shuttle Columbia. As part of STS-9 he became the first person to use amateur radio in space. This became an important activity in many subsequent Shuttle and ISS missions. His son Richard – see below – also engaged in ham radio during his mission to the ISS in 2008.

Owen’s third child, Richard, set up Space Adventures, a brokerage which organised trips to the International Space Station for private citizens. Richard was the sixth private spaceflight participant in October 2008, becoming in the process the first American and second person overall to follow a parent into space after Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. Ironically Richard had no interest as a child in becoming an astronaut, until a NASA optician told him that his myopia ruled him out of following in his father’s footsteps.

Photographed in the Houses of Parliament, London. December 2008.