Dennis Tito empties stomach, fulfills wish
Tourist says space is 'unbelievable'
(CNN) -- The flight beyond Earth's gravity has proven both invigorating and sickening for the first paying tourist in space, who arrived at the international space station on Monday.
"It goes well beyond anything that I would have ever dreamed," said Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million for the flight. "Living in space is like having a different life, living in a different world. Living in zero g, viewing the Earth from above -- it is so spectacular, it is so rewarding. I believe I am extremely privileged to have had this opportunity."
Tito made his comments Tuesday during a brief news conference with CNN and other media.
The California financier said he was "very comfortable" as the Soyuz spaceship lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan three days ago to bring him and two cosmonauts to the space station.
"Once we got into orbit it was just unbelievable, to see the Earth from above and the black sky. I felt surprisingly well," said the 60-year-old former NASA rocket scientist. "Then I think I got a little overconfident and I drank some juice and had some dried fruit, which didn't agree with me, and I had my first bout with space sickness. I learned that I have to be careful."
Such space related illnesses are common as travelers become accustomed to space travel and Tito quickly recovered, according to Moscow.
"I don't know about this adaptation that they are talking about. I'm already adapted so I love space," Tito said onboard Alpha.
"Dennis has gotten about 10 years younger," joked Talgat Musabayev, commander of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that ferried Tito to Alpha.
NASA balks, but money talks
Tito and the Soyuz crew will remain onboard Alpha for a week, the guests of one Russian and two Americans living on the modular complex. The Alpha residents helped open a sticky door on Soyuz before greeting their visitors Monday.
"Welcome aboard," Yury Usachev, the Russian commander of Alpha, said in English after the hatch opened.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration long opposed the trip, saying Tito lacked the training or Russian language skills to ensure the safety of the Soyuz and Alpha crews.
But the cash-strapped Russian space agency maintained it has sole control over who rides aboard periodic Soyuz flights to the station. Moscow has agreed to supply a fresh Soyuz, which serve as emergency lifeboats, to the station every six months.
United States space officials dropped their objections at the last minute after Tito agreed to certain restrictions. Tito, who once plotted flight trajectories for NASA probes, cannot enter U.S. segments of the multibillion dollar complex unescorted and pledged to pay for anything he breaks.
Astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms, who along with Usachev arrived on Alpha in March, promised for weeks they would welcome anyone who arrived on the Soyuz.
'Nice bed, warm food'
Tito has received an even warmer reception from his cosmonaut crewmates, with whom he trained for more than six months for the trip.
As the two crews gathered around a table in the Russian living quarters module, Musabayev told Tito: "We are going to prepare everything for you, nice bed and warm food."
The Alpha crew should have a light workload this week because of the station guests, NASA said. But their duties will include drilling Tito and the others on the proper use of fire extinguishers and oxygen masks, and assisting mission controllers as they correct computer problems that have plagued the station.
Failed computer hard drives left Alpha flying on autopilot for much of last week and almost delayed the arrival of the Soyuz.
The space shuttle Endeavour, which delivered a $1 billion robotic arm to Alpha last week, extended a rendezvous to the station by one day to help troubleshoot the computer glitches.
"It's exciting that tourists are flying in space," said Kent Rominger, commander of Endeavour, several hours after the Soyuz docking.
Tito's presence could give the Alpha residents a chance to relax somewhat because "they just can't afford to work 110 percent with inexperienced people around," he told reporters.
Endeavour left Alpha on Sunday, giving the Soyuz an opportunity to attach to the station. The shuttle was about 80 miles away when the Soyuz linked up with Alpha.
The seven-member Endeavour crew should touch down on Tuesday. The Soyuz cosmonauts and Tito are expected to leave Alpha Saturday in an old Soyuz craft.
Space sleepovers more science fiction than fact
Russian Space Agency
|Back to the top|