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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Tourist reaches space destination
Mark Shuttleworth
Shuttleworth paid $20m for the trip into space
A Russian craft carrying the South African space tourist Mark Shuttleworth has docked with the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz-TM34 shuttle latched on to the Russian Zarya module of the ISS just before 0800 GMT on Saturday.

Black-and-white footage from Moscow's mission control showed the procedure being completed without a hitch.

"Congratulations!" one mission control operator said afterwards.

Mr Shuttleworth's companions on the journey are Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko and Italian pilot Roberto Vittori.

'Courageous pioneer'

The 28-year-old internet millionaire is reported to have slept soundly after his blast-off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

"The day of the launch was very busy, especially for the novices," Igor Goncharov, deputy flight controller in charge of medical issues at mission control outside Moscow, told the Itar-Tass news agency.

International Space Station (ISS)
Mr Shuttleworth wants to do real science on the ISS
"For this reason Shuttleworth and Vittori slept very soundly."

There was much to celebrate after the launch in Mr Shuttleworth's home country.

South African President Thabo Mbeki described Mr Shuttleworth as "a courageous pioneer for South Africa and his continent, Africa".

Early scepticism

He added: "Past competition between nations has given way to co-operation, and our own Mark Shuttleworth and South Africa as a whole are proud beneficiaries of this endeavour, and of the goodwill of the Russian Government and space research authorities.

"In making his childhood dream a reality he has shown us the possibility of the impossible."

The space tourist had to endure some criticism after he first announced his intention to go into orbit. Some South African newspapers had accused him of self-indulgence.

But Mr Shuttleworth seems to have won them over with his educational initiatives in the country and his desire to do real science on the ISS.

Mr Shuttleworth will work on stem cells and HIV proteins - Aids is a major health problem across much of Africa.

Walk the dream

Mr Shuttleworth is reported to have paid about 14m ($20m) for the ultimate holiday. He follows in the footsteps of US businessman Dennis Tito who visited the ISS a year ago.

The South African's launch from the Baikonur space centre was watched by several members of his family.

Mark Shuttleworth (Associated Press)
Mark Shuttleworth has brought gifts for the ISS crew
"I'm sure he's going to have a wonderful time. I'll worry a little bit but I'm sure it will be fine," his mother Ronelle said.

Brother Bradley Shuttleworth said: "It is hard to explain what it's like to see someone - someone you love, someone who's real close to you - have a dream, have something which is completely insane, something which he believes he can do - and then step by step by step, through whatever comes, make that dream of his alive, to walk that dream... That's where I wish I could be!"

Mr Shuttleworth will return to Earth on Sunday, 5 May.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Moscow
"Mark Shuttleworth will spend just one week here, fulfilling his childhood dream"
Dennis Tito, first space tourist
"It was the greatest experience I've ever had in my life"
The president asks Mark what he plans to do in space
"We'll each be conducting separate scientific programmes"
See also:

12 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Nasa makes space tourism U-turn
01 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Nasa outlines space tourist criteria
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