A dotcom multimillionaire is set to become the next space tourist. To travel to the International Space Station, Mark Shuttleworth will spend some of the $575m he pocketed when he sold his South African internet company Thawte to Verisign.
Shuttleworth's is a typical internet rags to riches story. He started Thawte in 1995 as a consultancy to Capetown businesses, and turned it into a digital certification authority a year later. In late 1999, Verisign bought the company and Shuttleworth was fêted as a national hero.
He then became a controversial figure after he abandoned his plans to create a Silicon Valley-type environment in South Africa and hot-footed it out of the country to avoid paying taxes on his windfall.
Shuttleworth told the South African press that he was moving to London, but at some point he contacted the US company Space Adventures which brokered Dennis Tito's $20m trip to the Space Station earlier this year.
The 27 year-old then went to Russia where he passed a medical and began training at the Gagarin cosmonaut training centre, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
"This is a physically fit and very interesting person who has his own interesting ideas concerning the flight programme," said Russian Academy of Science member Anatoly Grigoryev.
No timetable for the Shuttleworth flight has been announced, and Grigoryev said that such details were still in the early stages.
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