WASHINGTON – April 24 – The National Space Society believes that Dennis Tito’s flight to the International Space Station will inspire increased public support for the space program and should therefore occur as soon as possible. NSS understands and respects NASA’s insistence on placing safety first as well as Russia’s assurance that Mr. Tito has been properly tested and trained for his visit to the station.

Because we believe that a delay of Tito’s flight would be blamed on NASA and would have a negative impact on public support for space station completion, especially considering the recent cost overruns, we urge NASA to quickly resolve any urgent issues with the Russians regarding Mr. Tito and let him fly as soon as possible. We then urge all the partner nations to meet and establish medical training and scheduling qualifications and constraints to be applied to future space flights of non-government personnel to Alpha. We believe Tito’s flight should be recognized as a precedent for future flights of qualified and trained citizens, and that protocols be developed to fly as occasion permits. His flight should not be regarded as an exception.

NSS supports the proposed establishment of a Non-Governmental Organization to administer these space station flight criteria for U.S. participants as well as managing routine operations and commercial opportunities. NSS is dedicated to opening space to everyone who wants to go and sees Mr. Tito’s flight as an opportunity to explore the public’s interest in space tourism as a future commercial endeavor. We anticipate heightened public interest in space as a result of his flight, which we hope will spur further investment in commercial space vehicles and long-term utilization of space station facilities.

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The National Space Society is a grassroots public interest education organization whose 23,000 members worldwide are working to establish a spacefaring civilization. For more information about NSS and its programs, visit http://www.nss.org or call 202-543-1900