Dennis Tito's Biography
Dennis Tito, a 60-year-old California money manager and multimillionaire, is single-handedly throwing open the doors to space tourism when he launches on a Russian Soyuz rocket with two cosmonauts from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Amateurs have flown into space before. In December 1990, Japanese television news producer Toyohiro Akiyama spent 10 days in space filing news reports in zero-G. But Tito will be the first paying space tourist. His flight could signal a new era of space adventure. So who is this man people call the first "citizen explorer"?
NAME: Dennis Anthony Tito
PERSONAL DATA: Born August 8, 1940 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. His father was a printer, his mother a seamstress. Currently, he resides in Santa Monica, California. Former wife and business partner is Suzanne; two sons, Michael, 26 and Brad, 23; and a daughter.
EDUCATION: He received his B.S. from New York University College of Engineering in astronautics and aeronautics (1962) and an M.S. in Engineering Science from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute (1964).
ORGANIZATIONS: Founder, chairman, CEO, Wilshire Associates, Inc., Santa Monica, California; Managing director, Los Angeles Opera; former president, Los Angeles Water and Power Commission; member and active fundraiser, Republican party.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENTS & HONORS: Made first million before the age of 40; developed the Wilshire 5000 stock index, the broadest indicator of U.S. stock market activity and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's favorite gauge of stock performance. He only bought one stock personally, making a profit.
NASA EXPERIENCE: In 1964, he joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where he worked for five years. While there, he helped design trajectories for the Mariner 4 and 9 missions to Mars and the Mariner 5 mission to Venus.
OTHER WORK EXPERIENCE: In 1972, he left NASA's JPL and began using his mathematical and engineering knowledge to develop new approaches in the analysis of stock market risks. He then worked on Wall Street as an investment management consultant. In the early 1970s, he founded Wilshire Associates, an investment management consulting firm based in Santa Monica, California. Wilshire integrated computers with engineering and investment concepts and developed portfolio management tools. By 1998, Wilshire Associates was the third-largest investment management consulting firm in the U.S. -- its 250 specialists advised clients with a total of half a trillion dollars in assets. In the early 1990s, Tito concentrated on philanthropic projects, such as building a medical research facility at the University of California, Los Angeles.
SPACEFLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Trained in Star City, Russia for "hundreds of hours" to prepare for his flight to Russia's Mir space station and the International Space Station. Took a ride on the Vomit Comet.
FASHION CHOICES: Russian jumpsuit (space); business suit with white shirt (Earth)
EARTHBOUND VEHICLE OF CHOICE: Titanium F-355 Ferrari Spider
ESTIMATED NET-WORTH (PRE-ISS): $200 million
Engineer, Billionaire, and First Outter Space Tourist