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Important dates in space tourism

May 2, 1967 - At a space conference the president of the Hilton Hotels, Barron Hilton, gives the speech "Hilton Orbiter Hotel" about the possibility of a lunar hotel with the promise that "when space scientists make it physically feasible to establish hotels in space and to transport people, the hotel industry will meet the challenge". This hotel would have the entrance on the surface of the Moon, but most of the building will be situated beneath the surface of the Moon to offer constant temperature and a more workable hotel area. Only three the levels, to eliminate elevators and minimize power requirements: the bottom housing the mechanical equipment, the center one consisting of one hundred guestrooms, and the top level used for public space. "But, and this is very important, in almost every respect the Lunar Hilton will be physically like an earth Hilton", said Barron Hilton, "My ambition is to be among the pioneers in such a venture".

May 18, 1996 - The "X Prize" is founded in St. Louis, Missouri, for "the specific purpose of stimulating the creation of a new generation of launch vehicles designed to carry passengers into space", modeled after the early 1900s aviation prizes that resulted in optimizing speed, safety and low cost travel.

October 20, 1997 - Zegrahm Space Voyages began collecting 9,000 dollars deposits from future space tourists. "By 2001" - this American adventure travel company, based in Seattle, says - "we'll manufacture small spacecrafts offering ordinary people the possibility of a trip into space". The full cost of such an out-of-this-world experience will be approximately 98,000 dollars. The U.S. space agency Nasa is not considering taking civilians into space since the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986.

December 1, 1998 - Frommer's, one of the most trusted name in the travel industry, with more than 45 years of travel expertise, and several book series with hundreds of titles, publishes "The Moon: A Guide for First-Time Visitors", a book featuring useful information to plan a worry-free vacation to the Moon, with all of the details on how much a trip will cost, how to train, what to expect during lift-off, how to eat, how to sleep, how to go to the bathroom, a crater-by-crater guide to the most famous lunar attractions, plus tips on bringing souvenirs back to Earth, with comments by the astronauts, and more.

April 30, 2001 - Dennis Tito, a 60 years old California billionarie financier, is the first tourist in orbit. On Monday April 30, 2001 he was welcomed aboard the International Space Station by Russian commander Yuri Usachev. To be the first space tourist Tito had paid a twenty million dollars ticket and will spend a week in the Russian segments of the space station orbiting around the Earth, jointly owned by Russia, the United States of America, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency (representing 15 countries). The U.S. space agency Nasa disapproved this touristic trip and Tito was not allowed into U.S. segments without being escorted. Russian later on started evaluating the next candidates to follow Tito on paid space trips.

April 25, 2002 - Mark Shuttleworth, a 29 years old South African entrepreneur and founder of Thawte, a company specialized in digital certificates and Internet security (later acquired by VeriSign), was the world's second space tourist and the first African in space. On April 25, 2002 Shuttleworth as a civilian cosmonaut boarded the Russian Soyuz TM-34 "Marco Polo" mission, paying a twenty million dollars ticket to fulfill his childhood dream. Two days later, the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (the mission was to drop off a fresh Soyuz spacecraft to the space station, as a Soyuz is kept docked as a lifeboat and replaced every six months). Shuttleworth spent eight days on the station, before returning to Earth on May 5. In order to participate on the flight, Shuttleworth had to undergo one year of training and preparation, including five days training at Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston and seven months which he spent working with interpreters, flight instructors, and scientists at the Russian training facility in Star City, near Moscow.