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Dennis Tito is a millionaire from California. He was born in 1941 and his parents were Italian immigrants.
He was inspired by Sputnik in 1957 and decided to become an aerospace engineer. He got a job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and for five years in the 1960s, planned the routes of the unmanned Mariner probes took to Venus and Mars.

However, his job at NASA become boring for him and in 1972 he quit and started exploring finance and investment. He was incredibly successful, and become a millionaire by the time he was 40.

He later set up Wilshire Associates, a company that provides investment advice.

Dennis Tito left his footprint in history books when on April 28th, 2001, he became the first space tourist. He basically bought a ticket on a Russian Rocket (the Soyuz TM-32), spent 7 days, 22 hours, and 4 minutes in orbit, and docked aboard the International Space Station.

He purchased his ticket for 20 million dollars (United States). At the time, it was an eighth of the Russian's spending on the ISS.

He caused a bit of controversy because he was paying Russians for tickets to an internationally owned piece of scientific property.

Tito has now become the first tourist in space after he blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He had a window seat.

"How do you feel, Dennis?" he was asked from the ground. "Khorosho," he answered, using the Russian word meaning "Good."

"It's a precedent," said the mission control chief, Vladimir Solovyov. "Let's hope that interest in space tourism will be shown. There are a lot of rich people. Why shouldn't they fly for their own pleasure?"

"If he will sign a contract, every citizen of the planet can ride‚ if his health permits him and he comes through with the money," said Yuri Grigoryev, deputy designer at the state-run Energia rocket company. "The station is open to commercialization."

Tito will spend six days aboard the space station with his video camera, CD player and nine disks (eight opera and one Beatles). While he was listed as a "systems operator," he will not be allowed to touch much and will need an escort when he visits the U.S. section of the station.
I think Tito is a true pioneer.

We all know that the only way that space exploration will ever be successful or do anything cool will be if it gets adequate funding. The best way to do this is through tourism. And of course, the best way to do that is to make stuff like space stations look like space stations are supposed to look.

I mean, what does it take? It's not hard. Just slap up some moulded plastic here and there, put some neat sound effects in when doors open and close. Get those stupid dangling wires behind a wall. Give the onboard computers names and have the astronauts talk to them. Make the suits cooler, like the ones in 2001: A Space Oddysey. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Tito is the thin edge of the wedge. A few years from now, there could be honeymoon flights.

Then they can afford to build station/resorts on the moon, Mars and eventually Europa.

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