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Congressmen express opposition to Tito's ISS flight
Posted: Sat, Feb 10, 2001, 9:42 AM ET (1442 GMT)
Dennis Tito on a Russian zero-g plane, courtesy Space Adventures Two prominent members of Congress have said in recent days they are opposed to plans by Russia to send California businessman Dennis Tito to the International Space Station later this year as a space tourist. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee, said at an FAA commercial space conference Tuesday that he was not "overly excited" by Tito's trip. While expressing interest in the long-term prospects of space tourism, Boehlert said that "it's a little bit early yet" to send tourists to ISS. Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), ranking minority member of the House Science Committee, expressed similar concerns in a letter sent this week to NASA and published by NASA Watch. "I am strongly opposed to the flight of any 'space tourists' to the International Space Station during its assembly phase," he wrote, adding that he could not justify putting ISS "at risk" to benefit a single private citizen. It's not clear what Congress could do to block the Russian flight to ISS, except for pressuring NASA to ask the Russians to cancel the April 30 flight or make other efforts to block it. NASA and Rosaviakosmos officials plan to meet this month in Houston to discuss this issue.
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