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Tourist floating on air over visit to space station

Tito
The mission is the culmination of a life-long dream for Tito

 

'I love space!' says Californian Dennis Tito

MOSCOW, Russia -- The world's first paying space tourist, American businessman Dennis Tito, has begun his holiday aboard the international space station.

Tito could not hide his delight as he was shown floating through the hatch into the station on Monday.

Giving the thumbs up sign, he said: "A great trip here! I don't know about this adaption that they're talking about. I'm already adapted. I love space!"

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The former NASA engineer will spend six days 240 miles (385 kilometres) above the Earth in the space station.

Tito, 60, arrived at the station on Monday to begin the adventure he dreamed of ever since the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite more than 40 years ago.

He has paid $20 million (13 million) for the trip.

The California millionaire and two Russian cosmonauts, Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin, successfully docked their Soyuz rocket with the space station after a two-day flight.

Tito's historic journey began on Saturday when his space craft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

His arrival at the station was the culmination of nine months' intensive training for the mission.

He will spend six days aboard the space station, but will be limited to the Russian-built Zvezda module, which contains sleeping compartments, a table for securing meals while eating, a toilet and hygiene facilities.

"The tourist Tito will simply sit and watch," Russian Aerospace Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko said before the Soyuz was launched Saturday.

NASA said before the launch that Tito may be allowed to visit the American segment of the station, but only if accompanied by an astronaut.

Under Tito's agreement with the Russians, he will be held responsible if he breaks anything.

Tito worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the early 1960s, where he charted flight paths for NASA's Mariner Mars probes, before founding Wilshire Associates in the early 1970s.

By the age of 40 he had made his first million and his investment firm now manages more than $10 billion in assets and advises on $1 trillion in assets.

Tito began the process of getting into space in the early 1990s when the Russians sent a Japanese journalist and a British chemist to the Mir space station.

Tito wanted to be the next visitor to Mir, but the collapse of the Soviet Union foiled his plans.



RELATED STORIES:
Dennis Tito: A passion for space
April 30, 2001
Tourist enters space station
April 27, 2001
Russia 'plans more space tourism'
April 29, 2001
Space tourist Tito blasts off
April 28, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Russian Space Agency
NASA
International Space Station
Space Shuttle Programme

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