Mark Shuttleworth launches into orbit


Diamond Member
Mar 7, 2001

<< BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) -- The world's second space tourist lifted off Thursday on a Russian rocket from the Baikonur launchpad in Central Asia, heading for the International Space Station.

The Soyuz-U rocket blasted off at 2:27 a.m. EDT (0627 GMT) carrying Mark Shuttleworth, a 28-year-old South African Internet magnate, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko and Italian Air Force pilot Roberto Vittori on a 10-day mission.

The launch went smoothly and as scheduled, and the rocket reached orbit about eight minutes later, officials at mission control outside Moscow announced immediately after liftoff.

The 161-foot (49-meter) Soyuz-U booster delivered the Soyuz TM-34 spacecraft into an orbit that will lead to a docking with the frontier outpost Saturday at 3:57 a.m. EDT (0757 GMT). The docking will be carried live on NASA TV.

Shuttleworth paid $20 million for the journey, which began from the same cosmodrome in now-independent Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union inaugurated the space race, sending up the world's first satellite in 1957 and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, four years later.