Tags: Zillionaire | Tourist: | Love | Space'

Zillionaire Tourist: 'I Love Space'

Monday, 30 April 2001 12:00 AM

Endeavour's touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center was scheduled for 9:04 a.m. EDT today. Forecasters, however, are predicting that high winds, clouds and possible rain showers might prevent a Florida landing.

"Knock on wood, forecasters have been off before," shuttle commander Kent Rominger said during a news conference from Endeavour. "So I'm somewhat optimistic that they may be off a little bit this time and we can sneak in there in between some of the weather."

However, conditions were expected to be worse Wednesday and Thursday, so NASA already has started preparations in case it must send Endeavour to land at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Meanwhile, Dennis Tito, the first paying space tourist, arrived at the International Space Station early Monday aboard a Soyuz capsule launched by Russia and seemed to be in great spirits.

"I love space," Tito said smiling. "It was a great trip here." Then he gave thumbs up in front of TV cameras.

"I don't know about this adaptation that they talk about. I'm already adapted," Tito said.

"I love space."

Tito paid up to $20 million for what he calls the joy ride of his lifetime.

After months of opposition to Tito's trip to the station, NASA gave formal approval to the millionaire's visit to the ISS.

"For anyone who's experiencing space for the first time, it's just an overwhelmingly powerful experience," said astronaut Scott Parazynski from Endeavour.

"Probably, for Mr. Tito, the same sort of sensation, just a sense of awe that mankind can construct such a facility in the final frontier and it's such a beautiful sight. I think awe, is probably the sense that came to him powerfully."

The Russians launched the Soyuz under a partnership agreement with NASA. The capsule is to serve as a replacement for the one attached to the orbital complex and serve as a lifeboat. That Soyuz, which was used in late October to carry the first resident crew to the space station, needs to return to Earth before its fuel and batteries degrade beyond acceptable limits.

Tito took advantage of the empty seat on the Soyuz for his ride into space. He and his traveling companions - cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin - were to return to Earth Sunday aboard the old Soyuz. During his visit aboard the station, Tito planned to entertain himself taking photographs. He won't be allowed to enter any of the American modules without an escort.

Meanwhile, Mission Control reported that after a week of glitches two command-and-control computers aboard the space station were fully functional. A third computer was determined to have a broken hard drive disk that needed to be replaced.

One of the computers currently working on the station is a spare taken off its original duty, NASA said. One of the computers that failed last week is being returned to Earth aboard Endeavour so experts can try to figure out what caused the string of computer crashes.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Endeavour's touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center was scheduled for 9:04 a.m. EDT today. Forecasters, however, are predicting that high winds, clouds and possible rain showers might prevent a Florida landing. Knock on wood, forecasters have been off before, shuttle...
Zillionaire,Tourist:,Love,Space'
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2001-00-30
Monday, 30 April 2001 12:00 AM
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