Thursday, July 7

History’s First Space Tourists: Before Branson and Bezos | Digital Trends Spanish

It was the last days of April 2001 and the American billionaire Dennis Tito was taking off from Earth for the International Space Station (ISS). It was the beginning of what we are now knowing as space tourism. Before Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, these were the first space tourists in history.

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Behind all this is Space Adventures, an American space tourism company that managed to buy the seats that were not occupied in the launches of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft towards the ISS. With this scheme, he made eight trips of seven people between 2001 and 2009.

Although before Tito other people paid to be included in the seats that were not used in the Russian launches, such as the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque, they were professionals in the aeronautical area and worked in a space agency, so they are not considered tourists.

The first space tourists in history

Dennis Titus (2001)

Duration: 8 days (April 28 – May 6)
Ticket value: $ 20 million

Dennis Tito (left) with the crew of the Soyuz spacecraft that accompanied him on the first tourist flight into space in history.

American Dennis Tito went down in history as the first person to travel into space just for pleasure. Tito, a tycoon who had worked as a NASA engineer, paid $ 20 million to the Russian Federal Space Agency to be trained, transferred and housed on the ISS for 11 days.

Despite the resistance of NASA, Tito entered the ISS on April 30, 2001, where he had the possibility of manipulating some instruments, although much of the time he spent taking photographs, recording videos or looking through the hatches. “I have just returned from paradise,” he said upon returning to Earth.

Mark Shuttleworth (2002)

Duration: 11 days (April 25 – May 5)
Ticket value: $ 20 million

South African computer scientist and businessman Mark Shuttleworth became the second space tourist, being included in a six-month replacement mission for the capsule attached to the ISS. Shuttleworth was not comfortable being called a space tourist, so he took it upon himself to reinforce the educational and scientific purposes of his trip, such as the five experiments he took with him into space. Upon his return, he wanted to buy the Soyuz capsule.

Gregory Olsen (2005)

Duration: 11 days (October 1 – October 11)
Ticket value: $ 20 million dollars.

American Gregory Olsen became the third space tourist in history in October 2005. As Olsen was a scientist and owner of the company Sensors Unlimited, which develops electro-optical devices in frequencies near infrared, he also did not feel comfortable being called space tourist. In addition, his trip was one of those with the greatest scientific content.

Anousheh Ansari (2006)

Duration: 12 days (September 18 – September 29)
Ticket value: $ 20 million


American Anousheh Ansari was the fourth space tourist in history, but she was the first woman to achieve this milestone and the first person of Iranian origin to travel into space. Co-founder and CEO of Prodea Systems, a telecommunications company, her family is known for funding the Ansari X Award, which distinguishes space tourism initiatives. During his stay on the ISS, he studied the effects of anemia, back muscles and the effects of space radiation on the crew and different microorganisms. In addition, he published the first blog from space.

Charles Simonyi (2007 and 2009)

Duration: 15 days (April 7 – April 21) and 14 days (March 26 – April 8)
Ticket value: $ 25 million and $ 35 million

The computer scientist Charles Simonyi, one of the first programmers hired by Bill Gates for Microsoft, became in April 2007 the fifth space tourist in history and the second Hungarian to travel to space. Considered the developer of Word and Excel, Simonyi has a fortune estimated at one billion dollars. In 2009, he became the first person to take two tourist flights into space.

Richard Garriott (2008)

Duration: 12 days (October 12 – October 23)
Ticket value: $ 30 million

British-American video game developer Richard Allen Garriott, creator of the hit series Last, became the sixth space tourist, after paying about $ 30 million. In this way, he became the first son of an American astronaut to travel to space, repeating the feat of his father, NASA scientist Owen K. Garriott, who in 1973 spent 60 days on the Skylab space station.

Guy Laliberté (2009)

Duration: 11 days (September 30 – October 11)
Ticket value: $ 40 million

French-Canadian businessman Guy Laliberté and founder of Cirque du Soleil starred in Space Adventures’ eighth and – so far – last space tourism flight. Laliberté spent 12 days in the ISS, in an experience that he called a “Poetic Social Mission”. From space, he directed the artistic and social event “Stars in motion and land through water”, in which celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Shakira and Bono participated.

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