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U.S. Space Tourist blasts off

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Hum    6,933

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) -- A Soyuz rocket carrying U.S millionaire scientist Gregory Olsen and a Russian-American crew lifted off Saturday from the Central Asian steppes, launching the world's third space tourist on a two-day journey to the international space station.

The rocket streaked into the blue sky with an earsplitting blast, trailing blindingly bright yellow and pink flames, as the crew's family and friends, as well as U.S. and Russian space officials, watched from a viewing platform at the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Some in the crowd of more than 100 people, including members of two space-fan tourist groups, gasped at the blastoff and then again at the explosive separation of the first of three booster segments -- the only audible reaction until the spacecraft entered its initial designated orbit nine minutes after the launch. Then the crowd burst into applause.

As the spacecraft entered orbit, the crew -- Olsen, Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and U.S. astronaut William McArthur -- reported all was well aboard.

In the hours leading up to the launch, the trio, outfitted in bulky space suits, tested systems in the capsule. Shortly beforehand, they lowered the clear plastic covers on their helmets and activated the spacesuits' oxygen supply.

At Russian Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow, Olsen's sister Amy McCarroll said her brother was motivated by a devotion to science.

"He is a scientist first of all, and that's his main reason for going up there ... to help mankind, to see what comes from his experiments."

The spacecraft will rendezvous in two days with the station floating 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the Earth. Olsen, Tokarev and McArthur will bring cargo aboard and perform experiments.

One planned experiment, designed by Swedish researchers, will measure how inhabitants of the space station are affected by inhaling increased levels of dust in a gravity-free environment. The project is intended to help asthma patients back on Earth.

"I would hope that my flight would help if just to make space flight more routine," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on the eve of blast-off.

Olsen, the 60-year-old co-founder of a New Jersey-based infrared-camera company and holder of advanced degrees in physics and materials science, is paying a reported US$20 million (euro16.6 million) for participating in the Expedition 12 flight in a deal brokered by Virginia-based Space Adventures Ltd.

As the Russian-built Soyuz rocket was being fueled on the launching pad in Kazakhstan's barren steppes on Friday, top Russian and American officials held tough talks on the future of joint space missions with NASA's chief official warning that Moscow's demands for payment could end U.S participation.

The cash-strapped Russian Federal Space Agency has turned to space tourism to generate money. But after transporting U.S. astronauts for free since the 2003 Columbia disaster grounded U.S shuttle flights, it is now threatening to start charging NASA by the end of the year.

"One hundred years ago, airline flight was reserved for only a few brave souls. Everyone flies (on planes) nowadays," he said. "The same will be true of space flight."

Olsen said he preferred the term "space flight participant" to "space tourist."

Unlike pioneering tourist Tito, who was barred from entering the U.S. side of the space station in 2001, Olsen will have free run of the complex, NASA officials said Thursday. He will even be able to use NASA's e-mail system and Internet phone from orbit.

full story:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/10/01/r...n.ap/index.html

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insanekiwi    0

even i had the money i'd never fly into space. i'd poop my pants, seriously.

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Hum    6,933
even i had the money i'd never fly into space. i'd poop my pants, seriously.

586604033[/snapback]

Why ? What are you afraid of ? Aliens kidnapping you ? :laugh:

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Pox    0
Why ? What are you afraid of ? Aliens kidnapping you ?

or maybe the fact that something like 2% of space missions have ended in a fireball?

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