The Space Frontier Foundation praised NASA and its International Space Station partners today for permitting U.S. citizen Dennis Tito to board Space Station Alpha as a Citizen Explorer, when he arrives there by Russian Soyuz rocket next month.

Calling NASA’s agreement with the Russians “historic,” the Foundation
the ISS partners to use it as a basis for setting permanent standards
others to visit the station. Foundation President Rick Tumlinson
“there is now no reason a slow but steady stream of visitors shouldn’t
follow him over the next few years, as the station is completed.”

Tito, who paid $20 million to fly to the Russian commercial station Mir,
that flight when Russia de-orbited Mir in February. To honor Tito’s
with the Russians, Energia, the firm operating Russian elements of the
International Space Station, is flying him on a spare seat aboard a
“taxi” flight to Alpha. After recent negotiations with the Russians,
permitted Tito to board the ISS as the first non-astronaut visitor. The

Foundation supports this effort and believes Alpha partners should be
able to
engage in a wide variety of commercial activities, including private
citizen visits.

“As far as we are concerned,” stated Tumlinson, “whatever agreements
reached and signed by the parties in this case set a legal minimum for
visitors.” He continued, “by letting him fly, they are admitting space
safe enough for ‘normal folks’ as long as strict training, safety and
insurance standards are met.”

“I am sure many in government want this to be a one-shot affair, but
would be naïve and very short-sighted,” said Tumlinson. “They have a
opportunity before them. This is not about Mr. Tito, but about the
relationship between the space agencies and the people who fund them.”
concluded: “Now begins the next step – nurturing public space travel by
clearing the way for those who want to follow him through the airlock.”

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