August 21, 2006
Japan Space Tourist Cedes Rocket Seat to US Woman
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Japanese space tourist who had hoped to blast off on board a Russian rocket next month was deemed unfit for the trip on Monday, a Russian space official said, adding that a U.S. woman was most likely to replace him.
Entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto had been due to lift off in a Soyuz capsule from Russia's Baiionur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppes to the International Space Station (ISS) on September14.
But a medical commission found he was unfit for the 10-day journey.
"I cannot give you the precise details of the medical checks, but it looks like Iranian-born U.S. businesswoman Anousheh Ansari will fly instead of him," Igor Panarin, spokesman for Russian space agency Roskosmos, told Reuters.
"I believe the state (space flight) commission will approve Ansari's flight by the end of this week," Panarin said.
Ansari will be the world's third space tourist. U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito pioneered space tourism, flying to the ISS in April 2001. He was followed by South African Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002.
Space tourists are reported to pay the Russians about $20 million for the trip and a 10-day stay in orbit. This is believed to be the cost of a Soyuz rocket launch. Russian officials keep contracts with space tourists confidential.