September 26, 2008

Space Tourist Sues for $21 Million

Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto filed suit last month in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, against space tourism company Space Adventures for on the grounds that he was defrauded of $21 million.

Enomoto had paid Space Adventures in hopes of flying to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule in September 2006.

Instead, he was pulled form the three-member crew just one month before liftoff to make room for Dallas businesswoman Anousheh Ansari.
Enomoto says the medical condition cited for his removal from the crew -- kidney stones -- was well known by Space Adventures and the doctors who had monitored his health and suitability for space flight throughout the training.

Enomoto believes Space Adventures favored Ansari to fly instead because she had invested in Space Adventures and was the primary backer of the $10 million Ansari X Prize awarded in 2004 for the first privately developed manned space flight.

Space Adventures issued a response on Wednesday stating that Enomoto should not receive a refund because he became medically disqualified.

"That was a risk he undertook," they said. "Even if Enomoto could prove his unlikely claim that he was somehow misled, he suffered absolutely no damage from any misstatement because ... the cause of his failure to fly was medical disqualification, not lack of authority."
Enomoto claims Space Adventures persuaded Russian space officials to disqualify him under the pretense of medical issues.

"Mr. Enomoto's 'medical condition' was no worse than it was just two weeks prior to his disqualification, when he was medically cleared by the Russian Government Medical Commission," the lawsuit said.

In fact, Enomoto had been cleared by a group of five doctors charged with approving private citizen travel to the space station seven weeks prior to his disqualification.

The complaint also alleges that Space Adventures promised Enomoto he could conduct a spacewalk while aboard the station and collected $7 million in deposits, though the firm never had an agreement with Russia for the outing.


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