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Space tourist gets value for money

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth has said that he is adapting to life in orbit and the $20 million he spent on the trip is "worth every penny."

The 28-year-old South African Internet tycoon told CNN that he hoped research being carried out during his eight-day stay on the international space station would help fight AIDS and foster greater interest in science.

"It's been the most extraordinary experience and worth every penny," he said Wednesday. "The strangest part is how normal things are. I thought it would be weirder than it is. The body adapts."

Mark Shuttleworth talks to CNN's Richard Quest from the international space station (May 1)

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Shuttleworth blasted off in a Soyuz capsule on a rocket from Kazakhstan on April 25. He is accompanied by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko, making his third space trip, and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori, a first-timer in space. On Saturday they docked with the space station and met the U.S.-Russian crew.

Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest in London from the space station over Ukraine, Shuttleworth said he was conducting several experiments including growing crystals and taking stem cells into space for the first time. He is doing exercises while wired up to censors.

"It's certainly changed my perspectives on life," he added. "I always had my head in the clouds -- it's a little strange to have my body higher than the clouds."

The trio is due to return to Earth on May 5.

Shuttleworth made his fortune after starting an Internet security firm in his parents' garage and selling it four years later for hundreds of millions of dollars.

He spent nearly eight months preparing for the flight with cosmonauts in Russia and trained for a week at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Shuttleworth is the second space tourist after American Dennis Tito, who visited the station last year.




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