The Space Frontier Foundation called
NASA’s refusal to let Russian guest cosmonaut Dennis Tito enter Johnson Space
Center to complete training to fly aboard the International Space Station
Alpha a major political blunder.
According to the Foundation, by creating a
virtual Iron Curtain around the NASA facility, current NASA management is
demonstrating the agency is not interested in opening space to non-astronauts,
and is incompetent to manage the complex international aspects of the
multi-billion dollar space facility.

“Blocking Mr. Tito at the gates of JSC represents one of the most idiotic,
insulting and politically naive actions ever taken by the U.S. space agency,”
remarked Space Frontier Foundation President Rick Tumlinson.
“It shows that
NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and his staff are not only hypocrites interested
in opening space only to their own employees and powerful friends,” he
explained, “but they are also incapable of managing the space station with all
its international and diplomatic implications.
This confrontation should
never have happened.”

The Foundation, which has been encouraging NASA to set standards to apply
to all ISS visitors, concedes the wealthy Tito is not their idea of a poster
child for public access to space, but defends the Russians’ right, and need,
to fly him, given their desperate financial situation.
Tito, a Santa Monica
businessman, paid $20 million to MirCorp to fly aboard the commercial Mir
space station prior to NASA forcing it to be de-orbited, has been training for
months in Russia, and has met or exceeded the well-proven standards set by the
Russians for space flight.
Space Frontier Foundation believes NASA is
stalling, and using excuses that it does not apply to itself, and thinks that
if Tito were the guest of a U.S. Senator or other powerful government
official, the agency would bend the rules today.

“First they bulldozed the Mir space station, Tito’s original destination,
to clear the way for ISS, resulting in the death of Earth’s first commercial
space facility and humiliating the Russian people,” added Tumlinson.
the same week that the world has to watch Mir burn, they add the insult of
denigrating the Russians’ ability to train and certify their own passengers.”

He continued, “This isn’t about Tito or safety; it’s about control, and
NASA’s inability to grasp that space belongs to the people and the time has
come to give it to them.”

Space Frontier Foundation believes Mr. Tito is the first in a long line of
people who want and deserve to be able to enter the frontier they paid to have
explored, and is proud to join with the International Space Station Congress
in stimulating global discussions about how to best manage the International
Space Station so it serves the people who paid for it.
Please visit to learn about this remarkable effort, and to learn more
about the proposed ISS Authority.