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cal, the folks who do the training, the folks who provide the
vehicle, the folks who do the in-flight monitoring, and the
space agency as an overall body.
Garriott: We really did sell my seat to Dennis Tito. I got wiped
out by the dot-com crash and had to rebuild in order to find
my way back to space.
Olsen: It was June 18, 2003. I was sitting in Starbucks reading
the New York Times, with a great big co ee. There was a story
about Space Adventures. And I said, "Wow. This sounds like
something I'd like to do!"
Simonyi: The way you get there is very simple. You call Space
Olsen: I looked them up on the Web, and the next thing I
knew, [Space Adventures CEO] Eric Anderson was at my
door. We hit it o immediately. In October, they took me over
to a launch in Baikonur [the Russian launch site, located in
Kazakhstan]. I met some of the people in the Russian Space
Agency. I visited Star City. I went up in a MiG-29 and really
had the experience. That part was a freebie. It definitely whet-
ted my appetite. After that, I said, "Yeah, wow! I want to go."
Shuttleworth: Space Adventures certainly helped with introduc-
tions, but I get a bit irritated when they present themselves as
having facilitated everything.
Simonyi: I made the decision to go up very, very slowly. I actually
went twice to Baikonur as a normal tourist, not a space tourist.
Olsen: I call it a "space participant." But call it space tourist
if you want.
Garriott: Just for the record, I hate both of those terms. I pre-
fer the term "private astronaut" or "private cosmonaut," or
"civilian astronaut" or "civilian cosmonaut."
Simonyi: The launch is amazingjust in terms of the kind of access
that you get. We were partying next to the fully fueled rocket---
practically touching it. We were laughing, talking, shouting
greetings to the astronauts. It's very confidence inspiring. You
know something that you can party around is not dangerous. It's
a little bit like going onto a movie lot to watch the actor kissing
the woman, and the director is saying, "Well you could be doing
that." And I said, "You've got to be kidding." And then Anderson
said, "No, no. We are working with a client right now."
Olsen: I had had a collapsed lung. They were obviously hyper
about that. Made some issues about it. Finally, they accepted
me in the program. In April of 2004, I went into training.
Simonyi: [Anderson] kind of just kind of looked at me and said,
"Yeah, you could do it, I'm sure."
Ansari: I started training as a backup, not even knowing if I
would fly. Simonyi was already in line to fly.
Shuttleworth: I had to build a support team in Star City. Be-
cause, again, there was nothing from Space Adventures. It was
modeled on the little o ces that the European Space Agency
and NASA maintain there, but on a much smaller scale.
Simonyi: Now they've created this program [the Orbital Mis-
sion Explorers Circle], and you pay your money and then you
get an option for a seat. You invest into a position in the queue,
and then every time a seat comes up, you can pass or you can
take it. It's a tradable position. You can sell your option for
whatever the market will take. It's very thinly traded. I don't
think any have traded yet. That guy [Google cofounder] Sergey
Brin bought the first option.
Shuttleworth: The sticker price at my stage was $20 million.
But the actual price paid is somewhat variable.
Garriott: Unfortunately, I am an insider, so I can't really get
discounts. I paid $30 million.
Simonyi: The price is $35 million. It used to be $25, and now
it's $35. The option price is much less. I bought an option---I
said, "What the heck? I might want to go again!"
Shuttleworth: It's being streamlined now, because there have
been quite a few folks who have gone through the process,
and because Space Adventures has actually bought seats in
anticipation of their use, which they hadn't done before.
Ansari: Three weeks before the flight, the guy who was flying,
Dice-K [Daisuke Enomoto], the primary crew member, had
some medical problems and failed one of his medical quali-
fications. That's when they o ered me to take his place. As
you can imagine, this is not one of those opportunities that
comes that easily, so without hesitation---and out of disbelief
in a way, too---I just had to say yes.
SPACE SCHOOL Two months before his trip to the International
Space Station, Charles Simonyi experiences zero gravity aboard a
Russian aircraft (left). Anousheh Ansari, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut
Training Center, studies Russian ahead of her flight (right).
MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (SIMONYI); EPSILON/GETTY IMAGES (ANSARI)
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