Now that he's back on Earth, space tourist Dennis Tito was still high as a kite over his experience in space although he also displayed anger over NASA's criticisms of his trip.
Speaking to reporters at Russia's Star City today, Tito said he went up to fulfill a life's dream, a dream that he said began 40 years ago before he was a multimillionaire. Tito admitted that his adventure got off to a bad start when he became sick to his stomach before his space capsule reached the space station. But, he added, the overall experience was profound.
"It became for me a euphoric experience that lasted the entire six days," said Tito. He went on to say that, given the chance, he would have stayed for months. And when describing his most profound moments in space — when he spoke to his children from space over a ham radio — Tito became too choked up to speak.
Bitter Words For Goldin
But Tito also revealed some bitterness over the way NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin has criticized his decision to fly up with the Russian crew. During a recent congressional hearing in Washington, Goldin claimed NASA astronauts had to endure extra stress to make sure the presence of a non-professional did not jeopardize the safety of the crew.
Goldin also said that movie director James Cameron, was "an American patriot" for his reported decision to delay his journey to the space station until it's complete.
"With due respect to Mr. Goldin, I don't think he's in a position to determine who is an American patriot and who is not," Tito said. "For me, this was a life dream. Unfortunately, life is short, so you should do everything you can to achieve your goals."
The Associated Press reported that Soyuz commander Talgat Musabayev also came to Tito's defense, saying that Tito was more than a tourist and "A flight into space is not a flight on a Boeing 747."
Next Tourist Must Wait
Tito was issued an initial clean bill of health by doctors and is expected to be back in the United States by Saturday.
Although Tito has encouraged more individuals to follow in his footsteps, anyone hoping to do so will have to wait since the Russians announced this morning it will be another two years before they put another space tourist into orbit.
— ABC's Richard Gizbert in Moscow contributed to this report.