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Venus Williams Transits The Sun
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CORONA of the Sun - Tuesday morning, as millions of amateur astronomers watched in awe, Venus Williams became the first space tourist to make a journey to the Sun. Aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO spacecraft, Williams reported stunning views, "It's beautiful, just beautiful. I would never have guessed the sun could be so gorgeous! I wish Serena could be here." The SOHO craft -- a joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency -- is only large enough for one person. This and the high cost of a visit -- nearly 100 million dollars -- has prevented anyone from enjoying the trip until now.

"Our digital telescope allows us to actually see Miss Williams waving."
-- Kenneth Graniger, Harvard astrophysicist
"Actually, the craft was never designed to carry any passengers at all," explained mission scientist William Poland, "But we've hit a few budget issues lately and with all the talk of losing Hubble, well, it just seemed prudent to offer a spot to anybody willing to pop for it." The deal was struck by Space Adventures, the same space travel broker that arranged Dennis Tito's historic space tourism flight.

"It seems such a pitiful waste of money," complained Senator Tyler Fedbellow, of Massachusetts, "When we have so many pressing matters here at home, to see one of our fine young celebrities spending so much money that could do so much good for so many people on something so frivolous. It just saddens my old heart. When we can put a woman on the Sun, but we can't put a meal in the mouth of a veteran, I don't know what to say for this country." Fedbellow is a veteran of the Korean War and is a staunch advocate of veteran's rights.

No such complaints were heard in Boston, though, as thousands lined up to watch Venus transit the Sun. "As the SOHO craft crosses between the Earth and the Sun, a tiny speck can be seen. Close observation through our digital telescope allows us to actually see Miss Williams waving to her Earth-bound spectators," explained Kenneth Graniger, of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Images of the transit, as well as pictures of Venus Williams boarding the craft are available at the center's web site.

Asked if she would make such a trip again, Williams replied, "I think I will, but I'll wait awhile. Maybe 8 years or so."
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