Dennis Tito

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Dennis Tito
Dennis Tito
Dennis Tito, 2003
Country: United States
Organization: Private
selected on October 9, 2000
Calls: 1 space flight
Begin: April 28, 2001
Landing: May 6, 2001
Time in space: 07d 22h 04min
retired on May 6, 2001
Space flights

Dennis Anthony Tito (born August 8, 1940 in Queens , New York City , New York State , USA ) is an American entrepreneur. He became internationally known in 2001 as the first space tourist in space history.


Origin and studies

Tito is the oldest child of a working-class family with Italian ancestors - the roots lie in the city after which the immigrants were named: Tito in the southern Italian region of Basilicata . His father was a printer, his mother worked as a seamstress.

He studied aerospace engineering at the College of Engineering at New York University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1962 . He continued his studies at the also private Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute , which is located in Troy , a small town about 230 kilometers north of New York City. In 1964 he received a master's degree in engineering .

Aerospace engineer

He then went to Los Angeles , California , where he has lived ever since. At that time, he said, the desire to become an astronaut arose. He described the launch of the first artificial satellite in 1957 ( Sputnik 1 ) as a defining key experience. However, the recruitment criteria of the astronaut candidates of the time required a flying background that Tito did not meet. However, he managed to get a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), thus indirectly fulfilling his request. His job as an engineer in the control center was to calculate the trajectories of the Mariner probes. During this work he was directly involved in the Mariner 4 mission, which flew past the planet Mars in July 1965 , and in the Mariner 5 mission, which paid a visit to Venus in October 1967 . Before leaving the JPL, he was involved in setting the course of Mariner 9 to Mars .

Finance broker

In 1972, Tito founded Wilshire Associates, now one of the largest investment advisory firms in the United States, based in Santa Monica , of which he has since served as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer . As early as 1970, Tito had taken advanced courses at the prestigious Anderson School of Management, a business school belonging to the University of California .

Tito turned out to be a successful businessman. After less than a decade, he said he had made his first million. In addition to his skills as a manager, he also made a name for himself as a patron . For example, he supports the Los Angeles Opera and has been one of the opera's directors for years. He also donates to hospitals and other social institutions. Tito is the name of a stock market index that financial analysts estimate to be a reliable barometer, known as the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index. In the 1990s he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council and chaired the Committee on Water and Energy.


In 1991, Tito approached the former Soviet Union for the first time when it opened its Mir space station to (paying) foreign visitors. The pioneer was the Japanese television journalist Toyohiro Akiyama , who spent a few days on board at the end of 1990. The latter's employer had to pay $ 28 million for the exclusive coverage.

For Tito's space flight, the negotiations turned out to be difficult at times, as there were no contact persons in times of Soviet upheaval. From the mid-1990s, the new owner ( Russia ) did not have the money to continue operating the Mir station. At the same time, the first plans for a new space station, the International Space Station (ISS) , emerged in the USA . As a first step, the Shuttle Mir program was initiated , which kept Mir alive for a few years. At the end of 1998 the first module of the ISS was launched into orbit and in the spring of 2001 Mir was brought down.

In June 2000, Tito's name was first made public in connection with space tourism. The Dutch MirCorp, which briefly operated the Russian space station commercially, announced that an American businessman and former space engineer could be the first tourist on the Mir. To show how serious he was, Tito had set up a blocked account for US $ 20 million.

Before his flight to the ISS, Tito and Russia had to overcome some resistance from the other partners of the ISS. It was feared that the operation of the station, which was still under construction, would be disrupted and that visiting a tourist on the ISS could be too dangerous. NASA in particular was against Tito's flight for a long time. However, Russia relied on the fact that there was still a free seat on the flight of the first visiting team that could be allocated at its own discretion. It was also helpful that Tito was not a pure amateur, as he had worked as a space engineer for a long time and had been successfully participating in cosmonaut training since summer 2000.

NASA gave in only two weeks before the start, but Tito's visit to the ISS was heavily regulated. The US space agency forbade entering the US areas unaccompanied by a US astronaut and Tito had to sign to pay for any damage he might cause.

Together with the two cosmonauts Mussabaev and Baturin , Tito set off with Soyuz TM-32 on April 28, 2001 . They reached the space station two days later. There they were greeted by ISS Expedition 2 , which had arrived with STS-102 in early March . Tito spent most of the time in the Zvezda module, but he also got to know all the other sections. In the US areas he was "escorted" by at least one astronaut as agreed. After six busy days on board, the three visitors said goodbye, climbed into the Soyuz TM-31 capsule and landed on the steppe of Kazakhstan at the beginning of May . The total flight time was 7 days and 22 hours.

After the flight, Tito declared that he did not want to go into space again. It was an impressive experience and he would have liked to have stayed longer in space. A childhood dream would have come true. But this one flight is enough for him.


Tito is divorced and has two sons and a daughter with his ex-wife Suzanne.

In May 2002 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater , the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Tito is a radio amateur, his callsign is KG6FZX.

See also

Web links

Commons : Dennis Tito  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Profiles: Tito the spaceman. April 28, 2001, accessed on November 4, 2017 (English): "Tito also signed a contract saying he will pay for any breakages he causes and he is banned from US segments of the ISS unescorted."
  2. Prominent radio amateurs., accessed on June 7, 2018 .