First Space Tourist's Destiny Being Determined: Will His Flight Take Place Or Not?

The question of participation of the first space tourist - American financier Dennis Tito - in a flight to the International Space Station (ISS) will be discussed on Friday by heads of Rosaviakosmos and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Yuri Koptev and Daniel Goldin, the officials of the Yu.A. Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre in the Star City said. Russian specialists hold the view that Dennis Tito is prepared for such a flight. Furthermore, he will go to space not simply "as a tailor's dummy" but as a crew member with the functions of an engineer on "communication systems". During the flight he will, in particular, watch and control the operation of the systems of the spaceship's radio- and telecommunication with Earth and the ISS. Upon his arrival at the station, for six days Tito will do part of the work to photograph sections of the planet and will film them by a video camera. He will also answer questions by the Internet system and through communication media put by all those who take an interest in his flight. He will specifically have a conversation with the US youth. But the American side is insisting on not letting Tito participate in the flight, claiming that he is insufficiently prepared for a flight, that he is going to fly "at an improper time" /the initial stage of the construction of the station is under way and all the people there "do not care for tourists"/, and that among the countries building the station "there are no generally-approved documents on selection and flight of non-professional astronauts to the ISS". In the American side's opinion, all this adversely affects the level of safety of the flight of the crew members and of the permanent expedition of astronauts working on the station. Dennis Tito is now staying at the Baikonur cosmodrome as a member of the crew which is preparing to start to the ISS on April 28.

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