For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.
A federal judge has ruled that would-be Japanese millionaut Daisuke Enomoto can continue with a lawsuit against Space Adventures to recover $21 million he paid for an orbital flight he never went on. The Associated Press reports:
Space Adventures says Enomoto was medically disqualified in 2006 because of kidney stones. Enomoto says the kidney stones were a pretext to boot him off the mission because he refused demands from the company for more money.
“A federal judge heard arguments Friday in [Daisuke] Enomoto’s lawsuit against Virginia-based Space Adventures, a firm that made its name brokering deals with the Russian space agency to put half a dozen “space tourists” in orbit for fees of $20 million or more….
“Space Adventures wants the lawsuit thrown out, saying that Enomoto was disqualified because of a chronic kidney-stone condition. They say his money is nonrefundable. Enomoto claims the kidney stones were an excuse and that he was not allowed to launch in part because he refused Space Adventures’ demands for more money….He was replaced by Anousheh Ansari, who became the world’s first female space tourist (pictured at right).
“The Japanese internet tycoon who paid $21 million to become the first space tourist to walk outside the International Space Station wants his money back.
In a lawsuit, Daisuke Enomoto, 37, claims that Space Adventures, the private firm with connections to the Russian Federal Space Agency, ‘deceptively and fraudulently’ induced him to pay $21 million for a 10-day orbital sojourn that never materialized.”