April 25, 2002 10:44 AM

All it takes is stamina — and money. The world’s second space tourist — his name, believe it or not, is Mark Shuttleworth — lifted off Thursday on a Russian rocket from the Baikonur launch pad in Central Asia, heading for the International Space Station, say news reports. This was the mission that ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass and Tom Cruise reportedly had wished to make, Thursday morning’s “Today” show noted. Shuttleworth, a 28-year-old South African Internet magnate, blasted off aboard a Soyuz TM-34 rocket. He is accompanying Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko and Italian Air Force pilot Roberto Vittori on the 10-day mission. AP reported that the launch went smoothly and on schedule, according to officials at mission control outside Moscow. The Soyuz is due to dock with the international station on Saturday at 11:57 a.m. Moscow time. And the fare? Shuttleworth — who, the night before takeoff said, “I have some nervousness and some anxiety. I am not a professional astronaut” — paid $20 million for the trip. The money will be paid in installments, with the full amount completed only after he returns to Earth on May 5. Shuttleworth follows in the footsteps of American businessman Dennis Tito, who was the first space tourist last year.

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