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Space Tourist Arrives at International Space Station

Aired April 30, 2001 - 05:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN Center and continuing coverage of developments up in space.

California millionaire Dennis Tito is moments away from stepping onto the International Space Station. He paid some $20 million for the chance to take the flight and go up to the International Space Station.

For the latest on what's happening, we check in with Matthew Chance, who's in Moscow -- hello, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Linda.

And we've just had word from Russian Mission Control that permission has now been granted for the hatches to be opened between the Russia's -- the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station, opening the doors, literally, for the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, to set foot on board the International Space Station.

Well, the Russian Soyuz craft that he traveled from Earth from Saturday on successfully docked with the International Space Station a little more than an hour-and-a-half ago. Since then, as the two crafts, the space station and the Soyuz, have been orbiting the Earth at a very high rate of speed, a number of computer checks have been carried out to try and make sure that the docking process was indeed perfect -- that everything is connected in a safe fashion.

They've also been getting out of their space suits -- the cosmonauts -- the Russian cosmonauts, along with Dennis Tito, in preparation for the opening of the hatches and for moving out of the Soyuz capsule into the International Space Station itself, so that visit that they're paying here -- that six-day visit that Dennis Tito has paid a reported $20 million to go on can start in earnest.

We are expecting to see live pictures within the next few moments of the hatches opening and of Dennis Tito and the other crew members of the Soyuz craft moving from that capsule into the International Space Station. We'll hope to bring you those pictures as soon as they're beamed back down to Earth from the International Space Station itself -- Linda.

STOUFFER: Absolutely, Matthew, and I can tell you we are just getting word right here, right now -- an interesting comment perhaps on all the technology at stake right here -- we just got word that they're waiting on the crews to actually turn on their cameras -- a bit of a holdup maybe, just the cameras themselves, so that we can all see that picture as history is made up on the International Space Station.

We're getting a different view -- right here, a picture from live inside, as we're waiting for that hatch to open and -- look at the handshake. There it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soyuz 2-S commander: cosmonaut Talgat Musabayev.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. And there's Dennis Tito -- looks like member of the Soyuz crew coming through the hatch into the International Space Station -- making something of history -- the first man to have paid with his own cash to travel into space and to go aboard the International Space Station -- Linda.

STOUFFER: I can't help but notice the big smile on his face and of the other crew members there. This must be quite a moment for him. As you said, he paid a lot of money for this chance to go. And NASA has had a lot of concerns about all this.

The American space program put some conditions on all of this, saying Tito couldn't actually go into parts of the American segments of the station without an escort. He also had to promise that, if he broke anything while he was up there, he would pay for it. And as we've been saying, he is a very rich man. He has a personal wealth that's estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So perhaps he could afford it.

OK. We're getting word now that they may have some comments. So we'll be standing by to listen to what all of them have to say. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN)

STOUFFER: OK, you're looking at now the commander of the Soyuz and the International Space Station there in the headphones. You can see Dennis Tito on the right hand of your screen. He doesn't have headphones on, doesn't have a microphone, so we won't actually be hearing directly from him.

But you can tell by the look on his face just how happy he must be to be up there. Russia is calling him the second flight engineer on that -- here they go, they're putting headphones on him. We'll listen again.

DENNIS TITO, FIRST SPACE TOURIST: And I don't know about this adaptation that they talk about. I'm already adapted, so -- I love space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN)

STOUFFER: OK, they've taken the microphone off of Dennis Tito, the American millionaire who is making history right now as the first space tourist. You're looking at a live picture from the International Space Station, as the crew of the Soyuz space ship and the International Space Station get together right there.

You can see Dennis Tito on the right-hand side. And he said it all in his three words right there. He said, "I love space." He said he's already adapted to all the travel that he has been through in the last few days.

Matthew Chance, I want to bring you in again to see what comments you may have from Moscow.

CHANCE: Yes, that's right, Linda.

Well, Dennis Tito there looking very pleased with himself after, you know, so many months of training here in Moscow and in the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan -- he's undergone some nine months of very hard physical and mental training in order to undertake this trip, as well as, of course, paying $20 million to the Russian space agency.

The Russian officials, though, of the space agency there, have made it clear that Mr. Tito will not be playing any day-to-day role in the operating of the International Space Station. They said that will be left to the professionals. Mr. Tito has told CNN, though, about the kind of things that he intends to be doing during his six-day visit to the International Space Station.

He says he's going to be listening to a lot of CDs that he's brought up -- a number of CDs, a number of operas including -- as well as a Beatles album, he said. So he'll be doing a lot of listening to music. He also says he's going to be taking a lot of photographs. He said he's taken some 30 rolls of film into space with him. And he's promised his friends and family lots of photographs of the magnificent views he's going to be able to see out of the window of the International Space Station back down to Earth, and of course, deep into space -- Linda.

STOUFFER: Magnificent views indeed -- quite a trip -- quite a vacation he has planned for himself right here.

And again, American millionaire Dennis Tito is living his dream right now on the International Space Station. I know we got word from a spokesperson yesterday that he was a little bit sick -- actually vomited yesterday. But we're told that's all expected for a person's space flight. But word was today that he was feeling pretty good. And we heard him just a moment ago saying that he is already adapted to all of this -- quite an experience he's having. And he says, "I love space".

When he was asked about this trip before he left, he was asked about just the high price tag he is giving to Russia for this experience -- some $20 million. And he considers it a pretty fantastic deal. This is no doubt an experience he will remember forever, an experience that we are being able to watch live on this camera view from the International Space Station.

And we're told that this picture may go away in just a little bit. They may be out of camera range in another minute or so. But we'll stick with it as long as we can, as the crew members from the Soyuz space ship get together here with the crew members from the International Space Station -- a little fun with antigravity there. You can see one of the crew members upside down, Dennis Tito -- perhaps we've lost our live camera view.

A story we will no doubt follow, as Dennis Tito, the California millionaire, begins his vacation on the International Space Station. We'll continue to bring you all the developments in this.

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