withstands G-force satire
A nasty sunburn nearly forced South African space tourist
Shuttleworth to cut short his 10-day, 10-night vacation
to the International Space Station.
Shuttleworth, who paid $20 million to the cash-strapped Russian
space agency for his ticket to the cosmos, apparently forgot
to apply the recommended SPF-5000 sunscreen as his chauffeur-piloted
Soyuz limousine rocketed past the sun.
There was also a tense moment just before the April 25 launch
when Shuttleworth, who arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
in Kazakhstan with three bulging suitcases, squabbled with
a Soviet flight attendant who told him passengers were limited
to one carry-on bag.
The flight to the International Space Station, a facility
the Internet millionaire has dubbed "Club ISS,"
went smoothly. But mission commander Yuri Gidzenko reportedly
became quite annoyed by Shuttleworth's repeated cries of "Are
we there yet?"
Shuttleworth, who denied reports that he soiled his Armani
spacesuit during liftoff, also aggravated Gidzenko and Italian
flight engineer Roberto Vittori by asking them to take snapshots
of him with notable celestial landmarks like Mars and the
Big Dipper in the background. The pair also spurned Shuttleworth's
offer of $1.5 million in American Express travelers checks
to let him "yank the red thruster thingy."
Shuttleworth, who boasted before blastoff of becoming the
first native African in space, said he was also determined
to be the first man to polish off a 12-ounce herb-encrusted
filet mignon garnished with pan-seared sea scallops and wash
it down with Dom Perignon while in orbit.
Shuttleworth's quest has inspired other outer space thrill-seekers,
including 23-three-year-old musician Lance
Bass of the group 'N Sync, who dreams of becoming
the first pop music clone in space.
Rap music impresario Dr. Dre, Ph.D., reportedly hopes to
study the effects of a mind-numbing beat and violent, misogynist
lyrics in a weightless environment.
Others eager to jump on the cosmic bandwagon include Geraldo
Rivera, Farrah Fawcett and the Dalai Lama, who yearns to become
the first man to reach nirvana in outer space.
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