MOSCOW – Space tourist Dennis Tito on Tuesday confessed that he faced a mundane problem common to more conventional travelers: motion sickness.
After blastoff Saturday on a Russian rocket, ``I was very comfortable, I wasn't nervous at all,'' Tito said in a video linkup with Russian mission control in Korolyov, just north of Moscow.
But then some cosmic carsickness set in.
``I got a little overconfident and I drank some juice and had some dried fruit, which didn't agree with me, and I had my first bout with space sickness and I learned that I have to be careful,'' he said.
Despite his brief illness, the 60-year-old California financier said the trip has been well worth the price tag of up to $20 million.
``It goes well beyond anything that I have ever dreamed,'' Tito said. ``Living in space is like having a different life, living in a different world.''
``It is so spectacular, it is so rewarding,'' he said. ``I think that professional astronauts maybe, circulating among themselves, take this for granted. But I will tell you, there is nothing like this as an experience.''
He said he hopes the first space tourist won't be the last.
``Unfortunately, it's very expensive at this point, but there are others who can afford it and I would like to encourage it,'' Tito said.
Tito's trip had provoked objections from the U.S. space agency NASA, which argued that his presence aboard the space station would jeopardize the crew and interrupt its work. But he said there was no apparent tension when he arrived at the station, orbiting some 240 miles above the Earth.
He was given a tour of the American segment of the 16-nation station within an hour of his arrival and ``everyone has been fantastic,'' Tito said.
''(American astronauts) Jim Voss and Susan Helms have just gone out of their way to show me around, give me some safety drills,'' he added.
Tito initially signed an agreement with a company seeking private sources of money to keep Russia's Mir space station in orbit, but his destination was switched to the ISS when Russia ditched Mir earlier this year.
Tito is to spend six days aboard the space station, most of it aboard the Russian-made Zvezda module, before returning to Earth. He does not expect to go back into space.
``It's time for me to help other people achieve their dreams,'' he said, without elaborating.
When asked how he thought the trip would affect his terrestrial life, Tito seemed to cast about for the right words.
``This experience will be unsurpassed by any experience and I think it will be just part of myself as a person,'' he said.