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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"This was Dennis Tito's chance to reflect publicly on his adventures in space"
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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Space tourist hopes to blaze trail
First space tourist Dennis Tito AP
Dennis Tito's holiday: 'Very euphoric and profound'
The world's first space tourist Dennis Tito says he hopes his $20m (14m) holiday will inspire other rich amateur astronauts to follow in his footsteps.

Reflecting on his six days on the International Space Station (ISS), he said his most profound moment was when he spoke to his children on Earth via a radio link.

For me it has been a life's dream

Dennis Tito
In a sometimes emotional press conference in Moscow, Mr Tito expressed anger over objections to his visit by the US space agency Nasa. And he said if it had been up to him, he would have stayed in space for months.

Mr Tito said that, after his 60 years on Earth, his eight days in space were like a different life - an experience both euphoric and profound.

Speaking two days after he landed back on Earth, the Californian multi-millionaire cast himself as a role model for other wealthy would-be space trippers.

"Money is relative," Mr Tito told a press conference at Star City, the Russian cosmonaut training centre. "For me it has been a life's dream. Unfortunately, life is short. I hope this will be an inspiration to others."

Emotional time

Mr Tito broke down in tears as he described speaking to his children while he was in space on what he called a ham radio link. He said he now wanted to help others go on similar holidays, despite Nasa's objections.

Mr Tito glossed over the row the US space agency. "I hope that Nasa realises that this is beneficial [for the space programme] and that a qualified civilian should be allowed to fly," he said.

Dennis Tito AP
Dennis Tito spoke to reporters (and his family) from the ISS
Anyone who wanted to fly into space, and had the financial resources to do so, should start work on the physical training immediately, he said.

"Have patience, set the goal, even if it takes two, three, four, five or even 10 years," said Mr Tito. "Set the goal and you will get there in the end."

Mr Tito will stay at Star City for a few more days before returning to the US.

There, the multi-millionaire said he wanted people to see him as a serious man who had pursued and fulfilled his lifetime's dream, despite the difficulties.

As for his next holiday, Mr Tito said he was setting his sights a little lower this time, with a nice cheap sailing trip.

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02 May 01 | Sci/Tech
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