the first african in space
the crew
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More Personal

Question: How did the idea of travelling to space come to you?

Answer: Space has fascinated me as long as I can remember. It represents a frontier for humanity, and an enormous personal challenge. When I was young, I used to experiment with different mixtures of rocket fuel to try to build my own small rockets. Several years ago I started trying to find a way to train as an astronaut. Now, finally, it seems that this dream can become reality.

Question: How do you feel about this travel, are you nervous?

Answer: Of course! I have moments of great fear when I think about the extreme forces and technological difficulties of manned space flight. Walking through that fear has been one of the ways this project has already been personally rewarding. But being afraid is no reason to abandon a dream - walking through unfamiliar territory is always tough, but also ultimately very rewarding.

Question: What do the people around you (family, friends, even girl friend!!!) think of that?

Answer: They are 100% behind me! All of them have been wonderfully supportive, even though some of them think it's a crazy and scary idea.

Question: What will you have to do there?

Answer: There will be a daily programme of science experiments that will keep me busy, and also time to communicate with people on earth, and time to enjoy the experience of being there. I'm looking forward to meditating with the greatest view ever!

Question: Do you have a space training? If yes, what is it?

Answer: Yes, in total about 8 months of full time training and medical work for the project. I have to be proficient in the systems of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which I'll work with during the flight, and also understand the ISS systems to ensure safety while I am on the space station. The training includes weightlessness and centrifuge training, science program training, and training on space craft communications, guidance and control systems.

Question: How long will you stay? Do you already know when will be the departure?

Answer: Yes, I'll launch on April 22nd 2002 and fly for 10 days, 8 on the station.

Question: Did you try to have contact with Dennis Tito or will you?

Answer: Yes, we've met. He's a great guy and seems to have been very prfoundly moved by his experience of space.

Question: What is your foundation about? What are you concretely doing?

Answer: It's about innovation in education. We fund innovative projects to try to make education in Africa more effective. We are developing an open source school administration system, for example, and funding alternative types of textbook to see if they are more effective. We are trying very hard to get schools and education professionals in Africa to embrace open source software.

Question: You said that you hope it will inspire the Africans to believe in their dreams. Don't you think they'll have to dream really hard?!!

Answer: I think everybody has dreams which seem to be out of reach. But the world is a surprising place, and I believe that people who strive for their dreams turn them into reality more often than not, if they are willing to work very hard, to take one step at a time in the right direction, and if they are willing to take risks when opportunity presents itself. Sometimes when those dreams don't come true we realise that we didn't understand ourselves well enough, and we see new and unexpected opportunities. But without dreams we don't make any effort to move forward... dreams are very important to all people, of all ages, in all countries. I worry that all the constant press about African problems misses the amazing truth: that opportunity is abundant in Africa for those who seek it and are willing to work for it. We must work to solve the basic problems in Africa, but we must also ensure that people have something to dream about so that they pursue those dreams in Africa.

Question: Don't you think that your success story is uncommon and that africans don't have such opportunities?

Answer: I've been very lucky. But I've also met people from all sorts of places who have pursued their dreams and found themselves exceeding their wildest expectations of life. As they say, if you shoot for the stars, sometimes you reach the moon. Dreams keep us moving forward, keep us motivated when times are tough. So in my view, Africa needs dreams as much if not more than the rest of the world. We just also need to need to believe that!
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Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

The Team
Mark Shuttleworth
Dale Cupido
Karen Sharwood
Lara Keytel
Danie Barry
Freddy Khan
Vaughan Oosthuizen
Ravi Naidoo
Vuyo Dwane
Richard Mills
Nicolette Cronje
Wayne Derman
Peter Ribton
mission faq
on dreams and packing
recent interview
on his past
on russia
more personal
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mark's biography
thanks for those involved
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