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  Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth
Updated 30 April 2002, 16.09
Mark Shuttleworth
Millionaire Mark Shuttleworth has blasted off to spend ten days in space.

And we chatted to him live from the International Space Station.

You can read the best bits of the interview below - or watch it in video by clicking on the link underneath!

Watch webchatWatch video webchat

Annie, 13, London: What is space food like?

MS: Annie, you'd be very, comfortable up here. This morning for breakfast I had strawberry yoghurt and a granola bar with some orange juice - everything that you could imagine - from steak through sushi or shrimp cocktail - is available for the astronauts up there.

We have food from both Russia - which tends to be very natural - without many preservatives and chemicals and then stuff from the United States which tends to be a little more diverse. So there's a great mix, a great balance and we've not shortage. In fact if we could turn the camera around now you'd see a bunch of my fellow cosmonauts munching down on a delicious meal.

John, 12, Scotland: Do you have to clean your teeth in space?

MS: Yes. I had to get used to swallowing.

H Khim Jee, Canada: Now that you're up in space and able to look at the earth, what goes through your mind?

MS: Just after launch if you crane your neck around you can see this incredible sight of the earth and the very thin atmosphere that protects us from outer space. There's a tremendous mix of emotions that rushes through your head at that stage - relief to be out of the atmosphere and safely on your way and just sheer joy at being up there and a sense of the magnificence of the earth.

Fresher Chirwa, Zambia: Was it necessary to spend so much money on space travel when you could have given it to millions who are dying of hunger in Africa?

MS: I think it's very important for Africa to embrace its future and to create a sense of excitement for the people of Africa about their own futures. And so one of the things I hoped to do by fulfilling my own dream was to do it in a way that might reach out to particularly children and learners in Africa and show them that dreams can come true and that's a very powerful thought.

What sort of scientific research are you carrying out up there?

MS: We've got a number of experiments. The most challenging one which is a very, very difficult experiment and very ambitious, is a stem cell and embryology experiment from a South African university. We've got a glovebox that we've brought up on the Soyuz and in that we have some sheep and mice stem cells and embryos. That's the first time that those kinds of cells have flown to space.

We are also doing a lot of human physiology research - I am sort of a permanent human guinea pig. I'm not doing an Austin Powers impression - the electrodes are practically implanted over here.

What effect will your science research have on children?

MS: I hope there will be an upsurge in the interest and excitement about science and technology in Africa and South Africa. Hopefully getting children to embrace science and mathematics at school level - creating a foundation for later life.

Pervin, India: How soon do you think it would be possible for everyone to go on regular flights to the moon?

MS: It's great to see someone dreaming big. I think trips to the moon are a way away. But I think we're on the verge of seeing trips to lower orbit and that's certainly a great start for reaching out to the planets and beyond. Hopefully that will all unfold over the next five to ten years.

Pieter, Holland: Do you need to be super-humanly fit or just healthy to fly in space?

MS: I think you have to have a very strong will and have a burning desire to fly. There are some medical conditions that would mean you couldn't fly. But in general we've learnt that the human body adapts to space quite easily. It's adapting back to earth after a long time in space that's tricky.

Michael, South Africa: What's your next dream, or have you already achieved everything you want to do?

MS: Far from it but the tough thing for me is figuring out which of the crazy plans I can hatch I'll do next. Once this is all over I'll need a bit of a holiday and then we'll see where the chips fall.

More InfoBORDER=0
Find OutGuide to the International Space Station
QuizTry our spaced out quiz!


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Astronaut breaks record with space trip
South African man books a holiday in space
Space tourist gets lift off



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