Texas explorer to become second person ever to orbit space and reach deepest point in ocean

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Richard Garriott will be the second person ever to have orbited space, and reach the deepest point in the ocean if everything goes as planned next week.

The Texas video game developer-turned-explorer leaves for Guam early Monday morning, and from there, will depart to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. He will dive more than 6 miles underwater at the Challenger Deep, which is at the southern part of the trench.

Garriott went to space as a private astronaut in 2008, on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

“There are many times in a spaceflight, from training to launch to floating around and seeing the beautiful earth to fire a reentry and in fact of the grounds are literally awesome. And I hope and predict that this journey to the bottom of the sea will also create a sense of awe,” Garriott said.

He explained this sense of awe helps his creativity at work.

“Even as a video game creator, I’ve also been an explorer. And like with the funds I’ve brought in through video games, I’ve invested throughout my career really in opening up new frontiers for exploration,” Garriott explained.

Not only has Garriott been to space, he has also been to both the North and South Poles.

“When I dive for this upcoming week, I’ll be the first person who’s traveled the earth pole to pole, and been in space. And then to the deepest point in the ocean,” Garriott said.

The upcoming dive isn’t his first, but it is the deepest.

“I’ve taken down the hydrothermal vents and deep wrecks, as well as the Titanic,” Garriott said.

For all of the adventures, Garriott has had to prepare both physically and mentally.

“One of the most important parts of the training though is frankly, it’s psychological. All the serious expeditions I’ve been on have had a malfunctions of one kind or another or serious issues show up,” Garriott said.

He went on to explain one of the scares he faced while submerged viewing the Titanic.

“We went underneath the Titanic to the stern,” Garriott explained, “And after had a viewing down there, we lifted off the bottom to turn around to leave, and we hit the bottom of the Titanic. And a flume of debris came down on the sub and pushed us down on the sea floor.”

Garriott said it was important in a moment like this to stay calm.

“You immediately think about all those safety features. I don’t care how much weight you drop, you’re not getting up through the Titanic, and you can’t send a balloon up through the Titanic,” he explained.

Fortunately, the debris didn’t keep them weighed down for long.

“It’s all very light and easily swept away by water currents. So after we sat still in the ground for a couple of hours and we could barely see a little bit out of our portholes we we lifted just we found we could lift,” Garriott said.

He said he hopes his adventures inspire kids to start exploring on their own, which can start in their backyards.

“If you were to go outside with a magnet to the place the water runs off your roof or a downspout, you can take that magnet around on the ground and you will find meteorites from space,” Garriott said.

He also added that he’s grateful his parents instilled this natural curiosity in him. His father, Own Garriott, was an astronaut for NASA.

“I think the greatest gift my parents gave me was this. This passion for being inspired by the world in which we live,” Garriott said.

The first person to orbit space and reach the deepest point in the ocean is Kathy Sullivan. The retired NASA astronaut made the deep dive Sunday, June 7.

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