the first african in space
the crew

Colonel Yuri Gidzenko

Colonel Yuri Pavlovich Gidzenko, the commander of the Taxi-3 mission, is no stranger to space ... or the ISS.

Born in the village of Elanets in the Nikolayev region of the Ukraine on 26 March 1962, Gidzenko graduated from the Kharkov Military Aviation College of Pilots in 1983, and from the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography in 1994. The holder of three Armed Forces medals and a parachute-training instructor, he completed his general space training in 1989, trained as a test cosmonaut from 1989 and commanded the back-up crew of the Euromir-94 flight.

During 1995/1996, Gidzenko commanded the Euromir-95 expedition, served aboard Mir and logged 180 days in space. He spent another 140 days in space in 2000/2001 as a member of the first ISS crew on the Expedition-1 mission.

One of Russia's most seasoned Soyuz pilots, Gidzenko will also be the first person to revisit the ISS. Married with two sons and resident in Star City, he enjoys team sports, swimming, tennis and football.

Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Vittori

Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Vittori has logged nearly 2000 hours in over 40 different aircraft during his career with the Italian Air Force and in the US.

Born in Viterbo, northeast of Rome, on 15 October 1964, he graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy in 1989, after which he received an academic award at Reese Air Force Base in Texas. An honour student of both the Test Pilot School in Maryland and the US Flight Safety School at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Vittori also holds a number of other kudos. He has flown both operationally and as a project pilot for the development of new aircraft, was involved in missile research, and has taught aerodynamics.

After being selected as an astronaut by the Italian Space Agency in 1998, he attended Astronaut Candidate Training at the Johnson Space Center and, after completing his mission specialist training, he was assigned to a taxi flight to the ISS in 2001. Since then he has been training as a Flight Engineer at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow.

Married with two small children, Vittori enjoys soccer, running and swimming, as well as reading.

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth is an African entrepreneur with a deep interest in technology. This passion led him to Star City, Russia, where he is training for a flight to the International Space Station in April 2002.

He was born in Welkom in South Africa, and grew up in Cape Town. While studying towards a Business Science (Finance) degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT), he first encountered the Internet, and quickly became fascinated with the changes it would bring in business and society.

In his final year at UCT, Mark founded Thawte Consulting, an Internet consulting business that became the first company to produce a full-security e-commerce web server that was commercially available outside the United States. Mark became one of South Africa's few IT success stories when he sold Thawte Consulting to internet security company, Verisign.

Mark likes spring, slashdot, sinatra and sundowners.

Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

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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
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Zero-G Heart Rate Data

Next-generation Soyuz TMA Cockpit

Mig-25 Afterburners