February 6, 2001
Space Adventures, provider of space flights and other space experiences for private citizens, disclosed today its ongoing role in the development and finalization of California millionaire Dennis Tito’s April 30, 2001 flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
Tito finalized his flight contract with the Russian Aviation & Space Agency (RASA) last week after first spending several months thinking he would be flying to the Mir.
Last year, Amsterdam-based MirCorp attempted to keep Mir alive by seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from private investors. However, MirCorp was unable to raise sufficient funds leading to the decision by the Russian government in December to bring Mir down.
Tito and Space Adventures then re-focused their efforts on the possibilities of a flight to the ISS. Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures, first presented Tito with the concept of an ISS flight in March of 2000.
Two months later, Tito signed a contract with Space Adventures. “At that time I didn’t believe it was possible, but over the last few months, Space Adventures has made it a reality for me,” said Tito, founder and president of Wilshire Associates, an investment management company.
Space Adventures has worked closely with several Russian space organizations, including the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, to provide comprehensive training, logistical, and legal support for all aspects of Tito’s upcoming flight.
Tito, who has wanted to fly in space since his days as a NASA engineer three decades ago, is the first private citizen explorer and Space Adventures’ client to travel on an orbital flight.
“Space Adventures has prepared me for the ultimate exploration experience, a flight into space,” said Tito. “It’s really a privilege to be involved in the first mission of this kind and to lead the way for other private citizens to do the same thing.”
Space Adventures said it has been working since August 1999 with RASA, RSC Energia, and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to develop private flights to the ISS.
“Space Adventures was instrumental in making Mr. Tito’s flight possible,” said Sergey Gorbunov, Press Secretary for RASA.
Sergey Kostenko, Space Adventures’ Moscow-based Vice President, added, “We are currently in negotiations with RASA to develop future commercial and tourist flight opportunities over the next few years.”
Tito’s participation in Space Adventures’ other programs, including zero-gravity flights, centrifuge training and supersonic jet flights to the edge of space, is what ultimately inspired him to take the final step to space.
“When I reached 2.5 times the speed of sound and saw the curvature of the Earth below and the dark sky above, I knew I wanted to keep on going,” said Tito after completing his flight in Space Adventures’ MiG-25, the world’s fastest operational aircraft.
In support of Tito’s flight, Space Adventures is currently organizing a trip for private citizen explorers and the press to Baikonur, Kazakhstan to view the launch on April 30, 2001. In addition, Space Adventures is also working to make available another private citizen flight opportunity to the International Space Station later this year.