4 May 2001
- Tourism (None)
Tito Gets More Than He Paid For
Can't Buy Me Love
by Carol Pinchefsky
At this moment, space tourist Denis Tito is experiencing a dream shared by millions--cozying up to the sight of Earth through his window. Tito leads the way in what will surely be a long line of adventure-seekers and space enthusiasts. For US$20 million, he received training, a trip to the International Space Station (ISS), and the right to say he did it first. But he gets something else in return for his money--criticism and antagonism.

Former astronaut John Glenn and NASA administrator Dan Goldin have recently blasted Tito for his daring to go to space. John Glenn compared Tito's experience to a Greyhound bus, while Dan Goldin, defender of NASA's budget, says Tito has caused NASA anxiety.

Note to John Glenn, upholder of the Right Stuff, the attitude of spaceworthy heros: The Right Stuff is about courage and discipline, not about name-calling and quibbling. Note to Dan Goldin: Tito's US$20 million bought him the right to thumb his nose at your policies.

Of course Goldin has demanded a reimbursement for lost research time, as well as the adddition of extra safety precautions. Considering Tito has been confined to the non-American area of the ISS--a US-instituted Berlin Wall in space--Spacefuture can only believe that NASA is demanding a piece of the $20 million pie that it lost by turning Tito away.

James Cameron, film director and writer, is being praised as a "patriot" for his willingness to suspend his space trip until the ISS is complete (which makes one wonder what place a patriot has on an international space station). In other words, delaying the inevitable explosion of space tourism gets rewarded with words of praise. At the same time, Goldin is using the language of criticism to turn Tito into a pariah.

Perhaps $20 million can't buy you love, but it can certainly buy you hate.
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Carol Pinchefsky 4 May 2001
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