ROSCOSMOS HAS TALKS WITH TENTATIVE SPACE TOURISTS

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MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti) - Selection is coming to an end for a space tourist training team, announced Anatoli Perminov, chief of the Roscosmos (Russian Space Agency).

"We have two hopefuls at the negotiation table with us now," he said to the media.

The research Institute of Medico-Biological Problems has blueprinted space tourist training. "We shall soon finish manning a team. There will be six on it, all of the male sex," Mr. Perminov said to the Rossia national television channel tonight.

"The [training] job is to start in 2006 to take 500 days," he added.

Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist, made his flight in April 2001. His lifetime dream cost the Californian millionaire twenty million dollars. Mark Shuttleworth, a billionaire of South Africa, followed in May 2002 to pay just as much.

The two next hopefuls were not so lucky. Doctors banned American millionaire Gregory Olsen's space odyssey for health reasons. Sergei Polonsky, an affluent Russian entrepreneur of 32, also did not qualify. They never set foot on the International Space Station.

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