Soyuz lifts off on historic flight
Posted: Sat, Apr 28, 2001, 5:29 AM ET (0929 GMT)
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Dennis Tito, the first commercial space tourist, lifted off early Saturday. The Soyuz rocket lifted off from Baikonur on schedule at 3:37 am EDT (0737 GMT) and placed the Soyuz spacecraft into orbit ten minutes after launch. Tito told ground controllers shortly after achieving orbit that he felt good. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station around 4 am EDT (0800 GMT) Monday, April 30; however, Rosaviakosmos officials agreed Friday to delay the docking if the space shuttle Endeavour was still docked to the station at that time. Tito has been billed as the first commercial space tourist, having paid an estimated $20 million to join two Russian cosmonauts, Talgat Musabayev and Yuri Baturin, on a "taxi mission" to replace the existing Soyuz spacecraft docked at ISS with a new one. Tito and his Russian crewmates will spend about a week at the station. NASA and the other international partners reluctantly agreed to Tito's flight less than a week ago, after Tito signed agreements to hold them harmless in the event of death or injury and to pay for any damage he causes while on the station. Tito is also prohibited from entering American portions of the station without an escort, although the Russian commander of the station's Expedition Two crew, Yuri Usachev, has said that Tito will be welcome throughout the station.
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