April 28, 2001: First Space Tourist, Dennis Tito
On this day in 2001, engineer and multimillionaire Dennis Tito launched into space aboard the spacecraft Soyuz TM-32 headed for the International Space Station becoming the first space tourist to fund his own trip into space.
Daniel Golden, NASA’s Administrator didn’t like the idea and when Tito showed up at the Johnson Space Center for training with a couple cosmonauts, Robert Cabana, then NASA’s manager, sent them walking stating, “…We will not be able to begin training, because we are not willing to train with Dennis Tito.”
Later through an arrangement with the space tourism company, Space Adventures Ltd., Tito joined the mission. It’s been reported the flight cost him a cool 20 million.
Tito spent 7 days 22 hours in space preforming several scientific experiments in orbit.
He has always been a stanch proponent of space travel and since his return he has announced his intention to privately finance a flight to mars by 2018. More easily said than done, the Mars Inspiration Team members admitted their plan was impossible without the significant assistance and funding from NASA.
Tito reflects on looking back at Earth:
No disrespect … but does anyone else see a resemblance?