On April 28, 2001, the world of exploration changed forever.
On that day 10 years ago, Dennis Tito, a wealthy engineer who had recently turned 60, broke one of the most sacred barriers in exploration: he became the first private citizen to go to space.
Blasting off on that Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard Russian rocket--Soyuz TM-32--Tito was on his way to a place only professional astronauts and military- or government-sponsored personnel had been able to go before.
Tito was the launch client for a new company called Space Adventures that was founded in 1998. Led by chairman Eric Anderson, the company set out to change one of the most fundamental dynamics of space travel and make it possible for the first time for private citizens to experience life beyond Earth.
This was not possible in the United States. NASA was not interested in taking tourists aboard the Space Shuttle--and never has been--explained Space.com senior writer Clara Moskowitz. And so those like Tito who wanted to make like an astronaut had no choice but to go the Space Adventures route--which meant traveling to Russia for weeks of training and an eventual trip aboard one of that country's Soyuz rockets. … Read more