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NASA, ESA may still block Tito's trip
Posted: Sun, Feb 4, 2001, 11:48 PM ET (0448 GMT)
Dennis Tito on a Russian zero-g plane, courtesy Space Adventures Despite Russian claims that California businessman Dennis Tito's flight to the International Space Station has been finalized, American and European officials are suggesting that they may block plans to launch the first commercial space tourist. A SPACE.com article published late Friday quoted Jorg E. Feustel-Buechl, director of manned spaceflight for the European Space Agency, as saying Russia's plans to launch "amateurs" like Tito were "irresponsible" and in violation of an intergovernmental agreement among the ISS partners regarding crew selection for ISS flights. Feustel-Buechl said that ESA disapproved of the flight and could try to block it. American responses to the mission, scheduled for launch in late April, have been more ambiguous. A NASA official in Moscow told the AFP news agency that the flight had not yet been approved and that discussions were scheduled for later this month on the issue. Other officials told SPACE.com that there may be little they can do beyond asking Russia to reconsider.
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