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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Second tourist aims for space holiday
Rocket AP
A ride in the Russian Soyuz rocket costs about $20 million
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

South African information technology billionaire Mark Shuttleworth, 27, has said he intends to become the second tourist in space.

He confirmed that he had undergone initial space training in Star City outside Moscow - the heart of the Russian space programme - but had yet to sign a contract.

Andrei Maiboroda, a spokesman for the cosmonaut training centre, said Shuttleworth was undergoing a one-month orientation.

If he goes into space, he will be the second fare-paying passenger the Russians have launched. US billionaire Denis Tito bought a ride into orbit earlier this year.

'Pretty excited'

Shuttleworth said that his journey into space would get everyone in South Africa interested in space and technology

He said he was "pretty excited", though he added that the deal was not yet clinched. "A number of other people are vying for the same position," he said.

Shuttleworth, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, started his business in internet security technologies with no financing, in his parents' garage, and quickly shot to success.

Last year, the company was bought out by the US company Verisign. Shuttleworth earned about 4 billion rand (300 million) on the deal.

He said the cost of the flight would be a major factor, but he was not prepared to discuss details. He is also concerned about the risks involved in the space flight and the difficult selection criteria.

Shuttleworth said the training was intense and challenging and added: "When you are totally inspired it's not work."

Nasa annoyed

One problem, as well as negotiating the price for the trip, will be learning Russian. This is necessary as all instruction is in that language. He will have an interpreter until he is fluent.

Californian businessman Denis Tito became the first space tourist when he reportedly paid $20m to Russia's space agency for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station in April.

The visit by Tito, a former Nasa engineer, annoyed the US space agency, which said he had not received adequate training and could endanger the crew.

Nasa officials called unsuccessfully for a postponement until procedures for sending non-professionals into space could be worked out.

See also:

28 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Profile: Tito the spaceman
28 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
First space tourist blasts off
30 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
'I love space' says pioneer tourist
26 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Space tourists ready to dig deep
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