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Cosmonauts reportedly refuse NASA training without Tito
Posted: Mon, Mar 19, 2001, 7:55 PM ET (0055 GMT)
Dennis Tito on a Russian zero-g plane, courtesy Space Adventures NASA will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss an "international incident" that took place Monday when agency officials prevented Dennis Tito from participating in crew training for an upcoming Soyuz flight. SPACE.com reported Monday afternoon that Tito was detained by officials at the Johnson Space Center to discuss "administrative and legal arrangements" when he and two Russian cosmonauts arrived there Monday for space station training. In response, the cosmonauts, Yuri Baturin and Talgat Musabayev, reportedly refused to enter JSC without Tito, although a NASA statement later in the day said that only the commander, Musabayev,declined to participate in training. NASA as well as other international partners in ISS have expressed their opposition to Russian plans to include Tito in the crew of Soyuz flight to ISS in late April, saying that he could interfere during an "intense period of operations" planned on ISS over the next several months. Russian officials, though, have insisted that Tito will be part of the crew of the mission to swap the Soyuz "lifeboats" attached to the station. Tito, a California millionaire who has been billed as the first commercial space tourist, is paying an estimated $20 million for the flight.
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