Japanese Space Tourist Pulled from ISS Flight for Medical Reasons

Space Adventures Confirms Fourth Space Tourist
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. (Image credit: RSC Energia.)

International Space Station (ISS) as a tourist on board of aRussian 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 Panarintold 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 Enomotohas been training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City,Russia, in preparation for a September 2006 orbital spaceflight," the statementread. "During a recent evaluation it was determined that Mr. Enomoto has a medical condition that will exclude himfrom participating as a crew member of Soyuz TMA-9."

Enomoto was to have become a fourth spacetourist if he had been flown on broad of the Soyuz-TMA craft to the BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 14. However, his plans are being to put onhold for medical reasons which Panarin would notdisclose Monday. Panarin would only say that "noother reasons, but medical" are behind the decision of the so-calledInter-Departmental Commission for Determination of Preparedness of the Crew  to pull the Japanesebusinessman from the planned flight.

Panarin told SPACE.com that thecommission, 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. Ansariis 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 recoverfrom 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 Enomotocould recover enough to fly to ISS with some of the subsequent crews.

If picked, Ansari would spend 10days on board of ISS and then return to Earth with the station's current crewwhich consists of Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S.flight engineer JeffWilliams.

Ansari and her family have a track recordin private space ventures.

The family backed the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million suborbitalspaceflight contest for private teams, with a multimillion-dollar contributionin 2004, according to SPACE.com.

Enomoto and Ansarihave spent the last few weeks conducting final training sessions in Russia'sStar City complex. Ansari said last month that shewas mentally and physically prepared to fulfill her duties as Enomoto's backup, but would have to leave her planned spaceprojects on Earth if required to do so.

Ansari said Space Adventures, which hasalso brokered past ISS-bound space tourist flights for U.S. scientist andentrepreneur GregoryOlsen, South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth and U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Tito, knew of her interestin orbital spaceflight and asked if she was interested in serving as Enomoto's backup.

The answer, Ansari said lastmonth, was a resoundingyes.

SPACE.com staff writerTariq Malik contributed to this story from New York City.

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