Welcome to “On This Day … in Space!” where we peer back in our archives to find historic moments in spaceflight and astronomy. So enjoy a blast from the past with Space.com’s Hanneke Weitering to look back at what happened on this day in space!
On April 28, 2001, the world’s first space tourist hitched a ride to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The 60-year-old businessman and multimillionaire Dennis Tito funded his own trip to space, and it cost him $20 million.
Tito originally signed a deal with a private company called MirCorp to fly to Russia’s aging Mir space station. Those plans fell through when Russia announced that Mir would deorbit in March of 2001. Tito didn’t let that stop him from going to space. He then made a deal with another company called Space Adventures to go to the International Space Station instead.
American businessman Dennis Tito, the world’s first orbital space tourist, is seen training for his historic 2001 flight to the International Space Station. Tito launched in April 2001 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft thanks to a $20 million deal brokered by the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures.
Credit: Space Adventures
NASA wasn’t too happy about having guests at the space station, but the Russians had no problem taking Tito’s money and launching him in their Soyuz spacecraft along with two cosmonauts. They met up with the crew of Expedition 2 at the International Space Station and stayed there for about a week before safely returning to Earth.