NASA blocks Dennis Tito from training in Houston
Posted: March 20, 2001

NASA managers will present the status of crew training at the Johnson Space Center for a scheduled April Soyuz taxi flight to the International Space Station at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

NASA met Monday with four cosmonauts and a European Space Agency astronaut who will serve as the prime and backup crews for the scheduled Soyuz taxi flight to the International Space Station. Dennis Tito, an American businessman who has entered into a contract with the Russians to fly on this taxi flight, was also present.

During an initial meeting Monday morning at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, mission managers discussed the Soyuz crews' schedule for the week. NASA also planned to meet with Tito to discuss administrative and legal arrangements as well as future training that would be necessary in order for him to fly to the orbiting station.

Last week, following a meeting of the space station partnership in Moscow, NASA and other international partners from Canada, Europe and Japan, informed the Russian Aviation and Space Agency they recommended against Tito's flight to the space station in April due to the intense period of operations that will occur during the next several months. During this period, the presence of a non-professional crewmember who is untrained on all critical station systems, is unable to respond and assist in any contingency situation which may arise, and who would require constant supervision, would add a significant burden to the Expedition and detract from the overall safety of the International Space Station.

NASA fully supports the commercialization of the International Space Station, provided that the safety and operational integrity of the vehicle and crew are maintained at all times. To that end, NASA and the other international partners are in the process of establishing criteria for selection, training and certification of non-professional station crewmembers on the International Space Station on a commercial basis. However, based on incomplete crew criteria and unresolved operational and legal considerations, there is not enough time to prepare Tito for a safe Soyuz flight to the station in April.

The Russian Soyuz commander objected to Tito not being included in crew training and elected not to participate in Monday's sessions. NASA and the other space station partners are continuing a dialogue with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency on this matter.

Tuesday's press briefing will originate from the James E. Webb Auditorium at 3:30 p.m. EST at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Washington, DC, and will be carried live on NASA Television with two-way question and answer capability for reporters covering the event from participating NASA centers.

NASA TV is broadcast on GE2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz.