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Second Space 'Tourist' Arrives at International Space Station - 2002-04-27


A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the world's second space tourist has arrived at the International Space Station.

This Soyuz mission would have been a routine exchange of emergency escape craft for the station, except for one thing. It carried wealthy South African computer businessman Mark Shuttleworth.

The 28-year-old Shuttleworth paid the Russian Space Agency $20 million for the experience, following the practice of U.S. businessman Dennis Tito, who made the trip one year ago.

News reports have said Mr. Shuttleworth's mother and other relatives watched the Soyuz approach from Russian mission control near Moscow, expressing joy and relief when the docking occurred successfully.

Mr. Shuttleworth is the first African in space. South African President Thabo Mbeki has hailed him as a courageous pioneer.

He is accompanied by cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko, a former resident of the station, and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori. They join the three men who have lived on the station since early December, Russian commander Yury Onufrienko and U.S. astronauts Carl Walz and Dan Bursch.

After floating through the hatch into the station, Mr. Shuttleworth and his Soyuz partners received calls of congratulation from South African, Russian, and European Space Agency officials.

The U.S. space agency NASA televised the events. It had strongly opposed Dennis Tito's visit last year, but relented after the Russian space agency insisted it could do what it wanted with its segment of the space station.

Mark Shuttleworth will spend nearly eight-days aboard the outpost conducting scientific experiments, amateur radio exchanges with Earth, and educational activities to be seen by South African schoolchildren.

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