Home / Technology / Dennis Tito, first space surfer: ‘It was the greatest moment of my life’

Dennis Tito, first space surfer: ‘It was the greatest moment of my life’

(CNN) – On April 30, 2001, US billionaire Dennisito arrives at the International Space Station (ISS) on a Russian Soyuz rocket, becoming the world’s first space traveler.

For Tito, at the time of 60, it was the pinnacle of a dream that he had pursued since he was a young man, and he would raise $ 20 million to make it a reality.

Reflecting on the last two decades of voyage, Tito was happy to describe the moment when the rocket first entered orbit.

“The pencils started to float in the air and I saw the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth,”
; he told CNN Travel.

“I felt elated, I mean, it was the greatest moment of my life to achieve my purpose in life, and I knew that nothing could overcome it.”

In the 20 years since Tito went on a space vacation, only a handful of the extremely wealthy tourists have followed in his footsteps, but companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are working to become a vacation destination. The next great This world and work to make it a reality in the not too distant future.

Tito has been keeping a close eye on updates on space tourism – he said he hopes that one day more people will experience the thrill of space travel.

“I just wish them the best,” he said. “I hope they have the great experience I have.”

‘The best experience of my life’

Dennis-Tito - Space - Flight (1)

Dennis Stito, pictured here after landing on Earth in May 2001, is the world’s first manned space travel.


When Tito embarked on his history-making journey in 2001, he worked in finance. But he started his career in aerospace.

Tito has been fascinated by space since childhood and thinks he is paving the way for a space sojourn.

“When I flew in 2001, it wasn’t just someone. [saying], ‘Oh, I want to be famous and fly in space.’ This is the goal I set in 1961, ” he said.

“I was fascinated by it as a kid,” said Tito.

Later, when he changed his career and no longer worked in the arena of aviation, Tito still dreamed of flying his own space.

“It was eight days of satisfaction.”

Dennis Tito, first space traveler

NASA has long opposed the idea of ​​sending civilians into space, but in 1991, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tito began talking to the Soviet Union about joining the space mission as a ticket-paying citizen.

He suggested these conversations after a decade.

“In the late 90s, Russians were in great pain with funding this space program, and most importantly, I figured it out. ‘Huh, maybe I will part with Russia.’ ”

Fast forward until April 28, 2001, and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft has lifted from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with Tito on board with two Russian astronauts. Tito spends the next week aboard the IS.

“It was eight days of satisfaction,” he said.

“I enjoyed looking at the windows, filming the world, the window, the station. It was wonderful,” says Tito.

“It was – whatever I expected, the 10th best I expected, it was the best experience of those eight days.”

Current playing state

Since Tito’s historic flight, seven other private citizens have traveled to space and millions of steam have done so.

Each expedition is organized by the Space Adventures travel agency, with travelers transporting Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station.

There have been no space tourists since 2009, where Space Adventures representative Stacey Tearne mentioned the fact that the US space shuttle program was canceled, leaving Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft the only option to enter and exit the International Space Station.

Tearne told CNN Travel that Space Adventures is confident the landscape will change again.

“In the future, we expect there will be a number of operators and vehicles,” she said. “When the market is competitive, it will be priced competitively.”

Deep-bagged travelers will be able to reserve seats on Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, seen here after it landed in White Sands, New Mexico in December 2019 after a test flight - when it began flying. Also the International Space Station

Deep-bagged travelers will be able to reserve seats on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, seen here after it landed in White Sands, New Mexico in December 2019 after a test flight – when it began flying. Also the International Space Station

Bill Ingalls / NASA via Getty Images

NASA helped fund the development of Boeing and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, but the two companies are still privately owned, so they will still have the option of selling spacecraft seats to anyone who can afford them.

Space tourism

The US company SpaceX is planning a later voyage to space in 2021 via a Crew Dragon aircraft pictured here in May 2020, shortly before becoming the first commercial spacecraft to send NASA astronauts to. space

The US company SpaceX is planning a later voyage to space in 2021 via a Crew Dragon aircraft pictured here in May 2020, shortly before becoming the first commercial spacecraft to send NASA astronauts to. space

SpaceX via Getty Images

Not all space tourism is equal.

There is a noticeable difference between travel to orbital space, which involves high-speed takeoff and longer duration – and the under-orbit space, where travelers experience the weightlessness and view of space in A short flight to the edge of the atmosphere, 60 miles above Earth.

The US company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk with the goal of eventually flying humans to Mars, could be the biggest hitter on the space tourism arena.

Billionaire Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman, who will be one of those on board, is funding the expedition.

Arceneaux is set to be the youngest American to have visited space and the first with prosthetic legs to travel into space.Arceneaux, Isaacman and the rest of the crew are currently training for the expedition, which is scheduled to be used. Many days

Now 80 years old, Dennis Stito is unsure if returning to space is his future. But he is excited about the movement in the field of space tourism.

“I would love to be one of the first to accompany Starship to Mars if I have the ability to physically,” he said.

He thought they might have gone to the younger crew.

“But I can fantasize about it,” said Tito.

Suborbital space tourism

Meanwhile, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been working on the suborbital space travel program for some time, selling tickets at $ 250,000 a pop over the years, when the company finally achieved this goal, Branson hoped it would be. One of the Virgin Space Tourists

NASA scientist: ‘you won’t be able to leave one person’

Jeffrey A. Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut who now works in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said he was “very enthusiastic” about space tourism as the idea.

“I’m excited by the idea that more people will experience being in space and hope to bring a new sense of our relationship with our planet back to Earth,” Hoffman told CNN Travel.

Hoffman describes looking back at Earth from space as a reminder that “We are all together”

“Getting the idea of ​​this world as a finite system and as a planet is critical to our survival as a living,” he said.

Not only that, being in space is fun, Hoffman said. He said the feeling of weightlessness that was hard to imagine for those of us who still survived was unbelievably pleasing.

“It’s in a state of complacency all the time, your body feels incredible, so different,” he said.

“So I think a lot of people – when the words come back and these original travelers tell their stories, you won’t be able to leave them.”

Hoffman describes Tito’s 2001 flight as “breaking the ice” and “the beginning of a new era of space travel”.

He hopes the historical astronomical costs of space tourism will drop as demand increases and development projects become a viable reality.

“When the words return and these beginner travelers tell their stories, you won’t be able to leave them.”

Jeffrey A.Hoffman, former NASA astronaut and MIT professor

“When you look at the tourism industry, the general population has something that can be used, and certain types of tourism are only available at a much higher economy. But sometimes things tend to go down and down. “

Hoffman suggested the main obstacle to space tourism, in addition to costs, would be safety fears.

In 2014, a test pilot died during a Virgin Galactic test flight while the SpaceX and Blue Origin test rockets exploded without casualties.

Hoffman said that, like air travel, there is always a risk of accidents. But a corresponding safety record will help keep the idea off the ground.

While the launch date of many space travel ideas has been pushed back several times. But Hoffman is confident this year may be important.

Will he consider returning to space as a tourist?

Space experts say he is often invited to board a cruise ship to talk about his work, and he hopes to one day have a similar opportunity to travel in space.

“If someone invited me into orbit and or even boarded a 3-minute flight as an experienced astronaut and shared that it would be great,” Hoffman said.

“On the other hand, if I own $ 200 million, I’m not sure I will spend just one more week in space because I’ve been there. But I want to go back. “

Future goals

When it comes to 2019 cruises, California’s Gateway Foundation has revealed plans to build a cruise-style hotel designed to orbit the Earth’s atmosphere.

Voyager station, comprised of 24 modules connected by elevator shafts that form a rotating wheel orbiting Earth, was built by the Orbital Assembly Corporation, a new construction company run by former pilot John Blair. Necow

The hotel hopes to highlight the fun of being in space, with plans to serve food, space and host recreational activities such as: “Space basketball”

SpaceX’s spacecraft systems could help keep Voyager stations off the ground.

When the design first premiered a few years ago, Tim Alatorre, Orbital Assembly Corporation senior design architect, told CNN Travel that the aesthetic of the hotel was a direct response to the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he calls ” It’s almost a blueprint of the don’ts. ”

“I think Stanley Kubrick’s goal is to highlight the differences between technology and humanity, so he builds stations and ships to be sterile and clean and alien.”

Instead of a typical picture of space – astronauts in a space suit floating in a narrow room, the team behind the space hotel wanted to build a luxury hotel that doesn’t look out of place on Earth. But there are some parts that do not look beautiful in this world.

“We are trying to make the public aware that the golden age of space travel is approaching and is rapidly approaching,” Blinclow said.

CNN Business’s Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.

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