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Tourist enters space station

Civilian Dennis Tito has paid $20 million (13 million) for his trip
Civilian Dennis Tito has paid $20 million (13 million) for his trip  

HOUSTON, Texas -- Earth's first space tourist has successfully arrived at his destination -- the international space station.

American Dennis Tito fulfilled a lifetime ambition as he entered the station on Monday after docking with two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

"A great trip here!" a grinning Tito said. "I don't know about this adaption that they're talking about. I'm already adapted. I love space!"

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Tito, a 60-year-old California investment broker and former NASA engineer, paid $20 million (13 million) for the trip.

But the flight proved controversial with NASA and Russian space officials disagreeing over the nature of the venture.

The U.S. space agency and the remaining partners in the $95 billion space station project -- Europe, Canada and Japan -- objected to an amateur visiting the station so early in its development.

NASA dropped its opposition after Tito agreed not to float into American modules without an escort and to pay for anything he broke.

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

His crew will leave their new Soyuz space capsule behind as an escape craft for the station crew when they return to Earth in a week aboard the station's old Soyuz.

The Soyuz craft docked after the departure from the station of the space shuttle Endeavour.

The shuttle had been aiding the station while NASA grappled with a series of mysterious computer failures that disrupted communications, delayed the test of a new robotics system and left ground controllers scratching their heads, unable even to turn the lights on and off aboard the station.

NASA is investigating the crashes.

"It will probably take us several days, or maybe even a week or so, to complete all the testing to understand what may have caused this," said Randy Stone, NASA's director of mission operations.

The Endeavour is due to arrive back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday after its 12-day mission.



RELATED STORIES:
Russia 'plans more space tourism'
April 29, 2001
Space tourist Tito blasts off
April 28, 2001
Dennis Tito: A passion for space
April 27, 2001
Tito launch to go on schedule
April 27, 2001

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

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