Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2000
Dennis Tito joins the elite ranks at Russia's Star City cosmonaut base
Moscow/Amsterdam/Alexandria, VA (August 23, 2000) - MirCorp has marked another space milestone as its first Citizen Explorer, businessmen Dennis Tito, entered training at Russia's Star City for his commercial flight to the Mir space station next year.
Tito received his medical certificate today from the panel of doctors that approve cosmonauts for space flight. This cleared the way for his startup of formal training at the Star City cosmonaut facility located outside of Moscow.
"We are pleased that Dennis passed the rigorous physical and psychological screening to qualify as a cosmonaut, and he has now joined the elite ranks of crewmembers to enter training at Star City," Jeffrey Manber, MirCorp president said. "Dennis' historic flight to the Mir space station as a MirCorp Citizen Explorer remains on schedule for mid 2001."
Manber said Tito has signed the formal contract for his Citizen Explorer flight, and has placed a down payment of several million dollars with MirCorp for the mission. The remaining amount will come in regular payments between now and Tito's mission. MirCorp's Citizen Explorer flights to Mir cost approximately $20 million, and will last approximately 7-10 days.
Tito is a former U.S. space program engineer who founded Wilshire Associates -the Santa Monica, California-based company that revolutionized the field of investment management consulting.
For his Citizen Explorer mission, Tito will be accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts, and will fly to and from Mir on a Soyuz transport spacecraft launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Dennis is a true space explorer and an eloquent spokesman on the excitement of manned flight - which is why MirCorp refers to him as a 'Space Ambassador,'" Manber said. "With our first Citizen Explorer now in training, MirCorp is more than ever committed to the belief that space exploration does not have to be government funded."
In a first for Russia's space program, Tito will follow a staggered training program that enables him to spend approximately two weeks at Star City followed by two weeks in California to run his business.
"Our Russian colleagues in Star City worked out this program with the understanding that not all Citizen Explorers would be able to spend several months in uninterrupted training," Manber said. "I thank the management at Star City for their development of this staggered program, which cuts no corners in training but takes into account the requirements of Citizen Explorers."
As the flight date approaches, Tito will remain in Russia for the final training and mission preparations.
The Citizen Explorer program is part of MirCorp's broad based business plan that foresees a wide commercial demand for the Mir station, ranging from such traditional uses as materials processing and Earth imaging to non-traditional applications including advertising and an Internet space portal.
In addition to the Citizen Explorer program, MirCorp recently reached an agreement with Mark Burnett, executive producer of the internationally known Survivor television series, for the creation and marketing of a TV program in which the winner will travel to Mir.
MirCorp was formed to serve as a direct link between commercial users of Mir and the space station's Russian operators. In February 2000, MirCorp signed a first-of-its kind commercial lease agreement for Mir with RSC Energia - the Russian space systems manufacturer that built and operates the space station, and also is a major supplier to the International Space Station.
The Holland-based MirCorp acts as a commercial facilitator, beginning with the establishment of conditions for Mir's use, and continuing through the successful completion of a user's activity onboard the station.
MirCorp is 60% owned by RSC Energia, while the remaining 40% is held by its investors.
The Mir space station entered service in 1986 and has been visited by more than 100 cosmonauts and astronauts from countries that include Russia, the U.S., France, Germany, Japan, Austria, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and Kazakhstan.
MirCorp has offices in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Moscow, Russia, and Alexandria, Virginia.
MirCorp public relations contact:
Jeffrey M. Lenorovitz The InfoWEST Group Telephone (U.S.): +1 (703) 448-5669 International GSM telephone (France): +33 6 80-85-86-25 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org