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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Let Tito Fly!

Los Angeles, CA, March 21, 2001 – The Space Frontier Foundation called NASA's refusal to let Russian guest cosmonaut Dennis Tito enter Johnson Space Center to complete training to fly aboard the International Space Station Alpha a major political blunder. By creating a virtual Iron Curtain around the NASA facility, current NASA management is demonstrating the agency is not interested in opening space to non-astronauts, and is incompetent to manage the complex international aspects of the multi-billion dollar space facility.

"Blocking Mr. Tito at the gates of JSC represents one of the most idiotic, insulting and politically naïve actions ever taken by the U.S. space agency," remarked Space Frontier Foundation President Rick Tumlinson. "It shows that NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and his staff are not only hypocrites interested in opening space only to their own employees and powerful friends," he explained, "but they are also incapable of managing the space station with all its international and diplomatic implications. This confrontation should never have happened."

The Foundation, which has been encouraging NASA to set standards to apply to all ISS visitors, concedes the wealthy Tito is not their idea of a poster child for public access to space, but defends the Russians’ right, and need, to fly him, given their desperate financial situation. Tito, a Santa Monica businessman, paid $20 million to MirCorp to fly aboard the commercial Mir space station prior to NASA forcing it to be de-orbited, has been training for months in Russia, and has met or exceeded the well-proven standards set by the Russians for space flight. Space Frontier Foundation believes NASA is stalling, and using excuses that it does not apply to itself, and thinks that if Tito were the guest of a U.S. Senator or other powerful government official, the agency would bend the rules today.

"First they bulldozed the Mir space station, Tito's original destination, to clear the way for ISS, resulting in the death of Earth's first commercial space facility and humiliating the Russian people," added Tumlinson. "Now, the same week that the world has to watch Mir burn, they add the insult of denigrating the Russians’ ability to train and certify their own passengers."

He continued, "This isn't about Tito or safety; it's about control, and NASA's inability to grasp that space belongs to the people and the time has come to give it to them."

The Space Frontier Foundation believes Mr. Tito is the first in a long line of people who want and deserve to be able to enter the frontier they paid to have explored, and is proud to join with the International Space Station Congress in stimulating global discussions about how to best manage the International Space Station so it serves the people who paid for it.

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

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The High Frontier is Gerard K. O'Neill's masterpiece. This new 3rd Edition Includes an introduction by Freeman Dyson.
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The Frontier Enabling Test
Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

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