Japanese Space Tourist Pulled from ISS Flight for Medical Reasons
Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto (left) is set to become the fourth ISS tourist. U.S. entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari (right) is reported to be his backup.
CREDIT: RSC Energia.
International Space Station (ISS) as a tourist on board of a Russian crew craft - unfit to fly to space, a Russian official said Monday.
"He is being taken off that flight for medical reasons," a spokesman for Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) said referring to Daisuke - Dice-K - Enomoto, 34. "It is definite that he will not fly on Sept. 14," Roskosmos spokesman Igor Panarin told SPACE.com in a telephone interview.
The Virginia-based firm Space Adventures, which brokered Enomoto's flight with Russia's Federal Space Agency, confirmed the medical issue in a statement.
"Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto has been training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, in preparation for a September 2006 orbital spaceflight," the statement read. "During a recent evaluation it was determined that Mr. Enomoto has a medical condition that will exclude him from participating as a crew member of Soyuz TMA-9."
Enomoto was to have become a fourth space tourist if he had been flown on broad of the Soyuz-TMA craft to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 14. However, his plans are being to put on hold for medical reasons which Panarin would not disclose Monday. Panarin would only say that "no other reasons, but medical" are behind the decision of the so-called Inter-Departmental Commission for Determination of Preparedness of the Crew to pull the Japanese businessman from the planned flight.
Panarin told SPACE.com that the commission, which will meet either Tuesday or Wednesday, is likely to pick Enomoto's counterpart from the back-up Anousheh Ansari to fly to ISS with U.S. commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin. Ansari is a U.S. businesswoman and is a space tourist like Enomoto.
Space Adventures did not specify in its statement whether Ansari would step into Enomoto's place for the upcoming launch.
As for Enomoto, he may recover from whatever health problems he has and fly to space later on, Panarin said.
"From what I know the situation is not hopeless," Panarin said when asked if Enomoto could recover enough to fly to ISS with some of the subsequent crews.
If picked, Ansari would spend 10 days on board of ISS and then return to Earth with the station's current crew which consists of Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. flight engineer Jeff Williams.
Ansari and her family have a track record in private space ventures.
The family backed the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million suborbital spaceflight contest for private teams, with a multimillion-dollar contribution in 2004, according to SPACE.com.
Enomoto and Ansari have spent the last few weeks conducting final training sessions in Russia's Star City complex. Ansari said last month that she was mentally and physically prepared to fulfill her duties as Enomoto's backup, but would have to leave her planned space projects on Earth if required to do so.
Ansari said Space Adventures, which has also brokered past ISS-bound space tourist flights for U.S. scientist and entrepreneur Gregory Olsen, South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth and U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito, knew of her interest in orbital spaceflight and asked if she was interested in serving as Enomoto's backup.
The answer, Ansari said last month, was a resounding yes.
SPACE.com staff writer Tariq Malik contributed to this story from New York City.
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