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Rocket carrying US 'space tourist' docks with ISS
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  • MOSCOW (AFP) Oct 03, 2005
    The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying American millionaire "space tourist" Greg Olsen together with a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut docked with the International Space StationMonday, Russia's Space Flight Control Centre said.

    The Soyuz TMA-7 capsule docked with the ISS after taking off from the Baikonur space centre on Saturday.

    Olsen, 60, had paid 20 million dollars (17 million euros) to become the third private citizen in space, following in the footsteps of American Dennis Tito in 2001 and South African Mark Shuttleworth in 2002.

    He was accompanied to the ISS by Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and US astronaut William McArthur, who were due to take over from Russian Sergei Krikalyov and American John Phillips.

    Olsen is expected to return to earth with the latter two on October 11, leaving Tokarev and McArthur to spend a total of six months aboard the ISS.

    The ISS is a joint project between the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and the 11-nation European Space Agency.

    Russia currently has a monopoly on ferrying people to the station however due to the grounding of the US space shuttle programme earlier this year because of a technical problem concerning the insulation of the booster rocket that caused the 2003 break-up of the shuttle Columbia.

    Carrying "tourists" into space has become a profitable sideline for the Russian space programme.

    Olsen, who heads a New Jersey-based firm that makes electronic sensors for military and civilian use, is due to help out with scientific work aboard the ISS, and to test products produced by his company.

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