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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Adventures in space
Businessman and space tourist, Mark Shuttleworth met Tim Sebastian
The BBC's Tim Sebastian met Mark Shuttleworth
South African space tourist, Mark Shuttleworth, has defended his decision to spend 14 ($20m) on a trip into space, at a time when his country is facing economic hardship.

The multi-millionaire entrepreneur made history in April when he became the second tourist, after American businessman Dennis Tito, to travel into space.

At the time he faced severe criticism, from home and abroad, for spending so much money on what some regarded as a self indulgent holiday in space.


But in an interview for BBC HARDtalk, Mr Shuttleworth denied allegations of selfishness and insisted hat his trip led to scientific and educational benefits for South Africa.

Research

Mark Shuttleworth (AFP)
The first South African in space
While aboard the International Space Station (ISS) Mr Shuttleworth said he worked on scientific experiments using crystals to help research into HIV and Aids

He added: "We had the HIV ribbon on the rocket. We raised that as a clear issue that needs addressing and a clear issue that needs people to rally around it."

Mr Shuttleworth also participated on an education campaign aimed at inspiring more children to study science at school.

He described it as an "incredible sensation" knowing that his journey could spark an interest in science for hundreds of thousands of youngsters.

Mr Shuttleworth said he had made no money from the expedition, insisting: "It certainly wasn't an economic opportunity. It wasn't a profit-oriented adventure and it won't generate a return for me."

International Space Station (ISS)
Shuttleworth carried out experiments on the ISS
He also said that being dubbed a "space tourist" detracted from the serious side of the trip.

He said: "I tried very hard to shake that label. It doesn't do any justice whatsoever to what we did."

Prospects

Mr Shuttleworth made his millions in the computer industry. At the age of 22 he set up an internet security company in his parent's garage. Four years later he sold it for $400m (280m).

His time in orbit made him the first South African in space and he was referred to as the 'Afronaut'.


It wasn't a profit-oriented adventure and it won't generate a return for me

Mark Shuttleworth
The trip also received praise from the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, for showing that South Africa as a successful country.

Mr Mbeki said at the time: "We can go into space and make contact with our young people and that shows we have the capacity to master this and make sure our country and continent succeed."

Although now based in London, where he runs a venture capital company, he said he was optimistic about his country's prospects.

He said: "The point that I want to make is that Africa has tremendous potential, tremendous future. We have to start focussing on that future and getting excited about that future."

The interview can be watched in full on Wednesday 31 July on BBC World and BBC News 24 at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in BST) 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT) 0330, repeated 0830, 1130, 1530, 1830, 2330



HARDtalk with Tim Sebastian is broadcast Mon - Friday on BBC World and BBC News 24
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See also:

25 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
20 Apr 00 | Africa
30 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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