Moscow (Interfax) September 1, 2000 - Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, will start training to fly to the Russian Mir space station in two weeks, head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Pyotr Klimuk has said in an interview with Interfax.
All the documents allowing Tito to begin his training at the Center as part the crew have been received. Tito is currently wrapping up his business duties in the United States.
Tito will fly to the space station when the two Russian crews change shifts. The exact date has not yet been named, but it is likely to take place sometime in the summer of 2001.
Two crews are now preparing to fly to the Mir station, Klimuk said. Commander Salizhan Sharipov and board engineer Pavel Vinogradov will be the first to fly. They will be replaced by Commander Talgat Musabayev and board engineer Yuri Baturin.
Tito is planning to fly with the second crew as a tourist. The sum of his contract has not been made public, but experts estimate the 10- day space voyage at $20 million.
The Mir station is currently unmanned. The last crew left it on June 16 after the 28th extended expedition.
Some 50 Russian cosmonauts and NASA astronauts are currently preparing for flights at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Klimuk said. Eight international crews, including those for long expeditions and short flights on Russian Soyuz-TM manned ships, or so-called "taxi- ships," have been formed to fly to the ISS.
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