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South African Tourist Docks at Space Station

April 28, 2002|From Reuters

MOSCOW — Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth, a South African millionaire and his continent's first astronaut, boarded the International Space Station on Saturday after a two-day trip through space on a Russian craft.

Shuttleworth, the second man to pay Moscow a reported $20 million for a trip to the space station, spoke with South African President Thabo Mbeki on a video link as part of Freedom Day celebrations marking the end of apartheid.

"I have truly never seen anything as beautiful as the Earth from space, and I can't imagine anything that can surpass that," Shuttleworth said.

Mbeki thanked the 28-year-old for his research into the AIDS virus plaguing South Africa and for setting an example. "I'm quite certain this will go down in history as one of the moments when we made a big leap forward," Mbeki said at the Free State Rugby Stadium, about 242 miles southwest of Johannesburg.

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