The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 27, 2001 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, April 27, 2001
Page 10
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A10 FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL T SPACE TOURIST Tourist taking ultimate trip Dreams of vacations in orbit near reality witii flight Saturday By The Associated Press BAIKONUR, Kazakstan — The fantasy of taking a vacation in outer space will come true for an American millionaire Saturday when he blasts off aboard a Russian rocket to become the world's first space tourist. Dennis Tito won't have the amenities imagined by science fiction fabulists, such as orbital hotels and fast-food joints where space ships stop on interstellar hops. But his trip, starting from the same launch pad that made Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first man in space, could mark a new era of paid space flight. "Over the past century or two, millionaires have opened the public's access to dozens of activities which now entertain and thrill millions," said James Oberg, a U.S. expert on the Russian space program. "It happened with airplanes, with ballooning, with scuba and skydiving and home telescopes, with photography and home video recording and personal computers." The California tycoon is flying to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket along with cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin. Could jeopardize safety NASA objected to the flight, saying the presence of an amateur on board could jeopardize the crew's safety, but dropped its opposition this week without explanation. Russian space officials insist Tito has received the same training for living in space that professionals get, The Associated Press Russian space technicians walk alongside a Soyuz rocket that is being carried Thursday to its launch site at Baikonur, Kazakstan, in preparation for Saturday's blastoff to the international space station. The rocket is to carry two cosmonauts and U.S. space tourist Dennis Tito. and his main tasks are to stay out of the crew's way, follow general regulations and know how to act in an emergency "The tourist Tito will simply sit and watch," said Russian Aerospace Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko. Experiments of his own Tito, 60, denies being just a high-flying tourist, saying he will experiment with stereo photography from space and the larger mission of tracing the path for future recreational trips into orbit. The founder of an investment firm who once worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Tito reportedly paid up to $20 million for the weeklong trip. But some entrepreneurs envision a time when space tourism could be more affordable and widespread. One U.S.-based company says it is designing orbiting stations for future tourists. Another says it expects to be able to offer suborbital excursions by 2005. Tito has spent hundreds of hours of training in classrooms at the Star City training center outside Moscow, including time in a centrifuge that creates gravitational forces eight times stronger than Earth's and in a Soyuz capsule simulator. Who's got a better record? Oberg dismissed NASA's safety worries. After operating the Mir space station for 15 years, Russia has more experience in manned space flights than any other nation. and NASA has been eager to learn from the Russians, sending 44 astronauts to the Mir over the past years. "NASA kept repeating that the Russians were teaching us all they knew about space station safety, and now suddenly NASA is proclaiming it knows more than Russia about space station safety," Oberg told The Associated Press. "I trust the Russian assurances, they have the experience — which NASA does not — to justify them." Russia discarded the Mir last month, to the dismay of many Russians who saw the station as one of the country's premier achievements. The timing of NASA's objections to Tito's flight seemed "like picking a fight at a funeral," Oberg said. T SPACE SHUTTLE Robot-arm work is delayed second day Matters could be complicated by arrival time of Russia's Soyuz By The Associated Press CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — For the second day in a row, astronauts aboard the linked space shuttle Endeavour and international space station had to put off critical robot-arm operations Thursday because of computer problems. Flight controllers were making progress on the mysterious triple-computer shutdown and had one of the machines up and running after working furiously round the clock. But NASA wanted at least two of the command-and-control computers operating before attempting to move the space station's newly installed 58-foot robot arm, still clutching its 3,000-pound packing crate that needs to be placed back aboard the shuttle. The arm could get stuck in an undesirable position if only one computer is used for the operation and then fails, said space station flight director John Curry "That's probably not the smartest thing in the world to do if we can help it," he said. Without any command-and- control computer, the crate would have to be left on the end of the arm until another shut­ tle crew arrives in June, Curry said. Mission Control was considering keeping Endeavour docked to space station Alpha for one or even two extra days, to give engineers more time to bring the two remaining computers back to life and understand what went wrong. The shuttle is supposed to leave Saturday Timing isn't good Complicating matters is Saturday's planned launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that is needed at the space station as a fresh lifeboat. The trip to the orbiting outpost takes two days. The Soyuz launch — featuring the world's first space tourist, California millionaire Dennis Tito — can remain on schedule if Endeavour stays at the space station until Sunday But if Endeavour has to stick around until Monday, the Soyuz launch will have to be delayed at least one day, NASA said. The shuttle and the Soyuz cannot be docked at the space station at the same time, because the approaching Soyuz would come "uncomfortably close" to Endeavour's tail, said shuttle flight director PhU Engelauf. The three command-and-control computers in the space station's Destiny laboratory began failing, one by one, Tuesda^ . night. 'Z DAYBEDS SHOCKEY & LANDES •((FURNITUREANDGIFT^)! 324 N. Broadway, Abilene, Kansas Mon.-Fri. 9-5:30 • Sat. 9-5:00 • 785-263-4770 I Finandng ailabje' Delivery Availablu BB SS | ^ SUPER WEEKEND SAVINGS! 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