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Tito cleared for ISS flight — if he's healthy
Posted: Wed, Jan 31, 2001, 2:26 PM ET (1926 GMT)
Dennis Tito on a Russian zero-g plane, courtesy Space Adventures The Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos gave the green light Tuesday for California millionaire Dennis Tito to fly to the International Space Station in late April as part of a Soyuz crew. Tito will fly to ISS along with cosmonauts Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin on a Soyuz spacecraft scheduled for launch April 30. The mission was planned to replace the existing Soyuz spacecraft that is docked to ISS as a lifeboat for the station's crew: Soyuz spacecraft are rated for only about six months in orbit before they must be replaced, so Russia had planned a regular series of "taxi" missions to swap the Soyuz spacecraft. Tito will spend about 10 days in orbit, seven of which at ISS. The businessman and former JPL engineer paid an estimated $20 million to MirCorp last year to fly to Mir, but those plans changed after Russia announced plans to deorbit the station in March. One obstacle that remains in Tito's path to spaceflight is his health: SPACE.com reported that he is hospitalized in Moscow with pneumonia. A Rosaviakosmos spokesman said the agency was confident doctors could "perform a miracle" and restore his health in time for the mission.
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