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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Would you pay to go into space?
South African internet millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, has become the first African citizen in space, a so-called "Afronaut".

He has reportedly paid $20m for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station.

Mr Shuttleworth says it has always been his dream to go into space but he wants to be called a researcher as his mission is to explore new ways of treating Aids.

Millions of South Africans are suffering from Aids, while many others don't have enough to eat or drink.

If you had $20m, would you go into space? Do you feel proud that there's an African in space?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

How much did Thabo Mbeki spend on the Presidential Jet? Much more than Mark spent on his journey! Well done Mark - you created a dream for many in South Africa with your money - something the presidential Jet will never do!
Kaspaas, South Africa


Having money is one test and spending it is another test.

Abdirizak Sharif Idris, USA
Having money is one test and spending it is another test. Help the needy, thanks! Achieve your dreams, good for you. There should be no bitterness in having somebody achieve his dreams. Bitterness should be to those African leaders who put their personal interests before the public's.
Abdirizak Sharif Idris, Tennessee, USA

It is politically incorrect to say Mark is the first African to go to space, he is the first "white South African" to go to space. Only a 'white South African' favoured by his colour during apartheid can spend that much money on leisure when countless of disadvantaged South Africans live in poverty. Instead of looking at the world from space Mark should have looked at the world from the shanty townships in Soweto.
Nsambila Cecilio Mbolela, Chicago-USA

It's amazing to hear people talking ill about Mr. Shuttleworth's trip to space. The man said that was his dream and he is just following his heart, and he has that kind of money too! After all he is one of us (an African), and his name will go into the history books. You didn't complain when Dennis Tito visited space? Although I wouldn't blow my $20 million that way, but heh... Let him breath my people, let him inhale, it's his time to shine.
Frank Gonani, Malawi

It is really shame that an African could spend $20 m for just a 10 day trip in to space while his fellow country men are suffering from all sorts of evil caused by poverty. It is just a curse.
Anonymous, Ethiopia


If your dreams are that important to you, you should pursue them accordingly.

Ammanuel, Michigan, USA
Everyone has a dream, and if your dreams are that important to you, you should pursue them accordingly. Going to space would be such an experience, I wouldn't dwell on what the whole world would be saying about me. If I was only rich enough to even consider paying 20 million dollars for a 10 day visit to space, I definitely would.
Ammanuel, Michigan, USA

Yes, I would pay that amount of money to go to space. One of my goals is to work towards achieving that.
Jean-Jacques Bekuit, Canada

He earned the money - it is his do what he wants to do with it. It is the governments responsibility to assist with the poverty relief, the huge aids problem and the basic rights to which every human being is entitled to. Our taxes in South Africa should be used to fund the expenditure for the people of this country. Perhaps the President of the country should rather use the money that he is going to buy his new jet to assist the people who voted his party into power. There has been a lot of debate in this country regarding the cost of Marks trip to space - as far as I know Mark has set up a charity to assist with some of the problems in this country.
Angela, South Africa

I think it's alright to spend the money if you can afford it. Another thing is that by paying the Russian space agency, he is also promoting space research, which is good overall for the whole of humanity. Spin-offs of space research are crucial in technology, security, etc. We cannot expect few governments in the world to shoulder it alone
Gibson, Zimbabwe


There are many better ways to help Aids sufferers

Samuel Mwakasendo, Australia
I don't feel proud that there has been an African businessman in space, but I would have been if it had been an African scientist getting there, as I know that we have got African scientists working with NASA. His mission is to achieve his dream to be one of the few to be in space. Being someone who works with patients every day, I realise that there are many better ways to help Aids sufferers or research.
Samuel Mwakasendo, Australia

Yes, I would pay to go into space. I know that a lot of people would disagree with me but I believe that one should pursue their life time dreams to the ultimate end. His achievement should bring pride to Africa.
Bally Tate, USA

Well, if I could afford it, why not? One thing I am extremely pleased with is that unlike the first space tourist, at least Mr Shuttleworth has decided to be slightly more constructive by doing some research during his trip. Well done for Africa and jolly good show for Mr Shuttleworth.
Darren Symington, Australia

I would only spend $ 20 million to go into space if I was going there to make twice that much money, or I was going to make a discovery which would help humanity live better in this universe. Otherwise spending such big sums of money only for pleasure while the majority of people in the world are living in great misery is madness, and such people should be considered as having lost part of their humanity.
Deo Peter Mushi, A Tanzanian in Rome


It has to be the ultimate adventure

Richard Gossow, USA/UK/South Africa
Yes, if I had the money I would. It has to be the ultimate adventure. I read that there are some people in SA, who are upset with Shuttleworth, but then again, it is his own money which surely he can spend anyway he wants.
Richard Gossow, USA/UK/South Africa

He is leading the race for the aerospace business in Africa. As a young man who made his fortune in high tech business, this will give him the impetus to strive for excellence and hopefully the rest of Africans will benefit. This is the positive part. Conversely, he is squandering resources that could save lives of people not only in South Africa but the whole the continent as a whole. I hope he will use his money for philanthropic purposes in future.
Muhalungu Ikepu, South Africa

It is crazy for this guy to spend 20m dollars, when people are dying of malnutrition and Aids. My country has been exploited by these kind of people in the past. Couldn't he return the resources to Luanda?
Campesino, Veseremos, Angola


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