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What’s more important than voting from outer space at this time of year? Shopping. While circling the world at approximately 17,000 mph and 200 miles above Earth, Flight Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov got a head start on filling their families’ holiday wish lists. With the help of Virtual Emporium and Mission Control near Moscow, the Cosmonauts have selected everything from Gateway computers to Chicago Bulls Sportswear with their Visa bank card account.

“Our mission is to make shopping easy for everyone, no matter where they are,” said Tuck Rickards, founder and CEO of Virtual Emporium, a pioneer in online shopping. “If you can vote from outer space, you ought to be able to shop from outer space.”

The Cosmonauts have been in orbit for more than 90 days, and will not return until mid-February. The Mir core capsule was launched in 1986, and this is the first time that Cosmonauts onboard ever have selected products to send to loved ones for the holidays.

Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov said, “The opportunity to personally select holiday gifts myself brings our loved ones closer and is especially meaningful to us, and it is much better than shopping on a cold Moscow day.”

Using Virtual Emporium’s online Personal Shopper application, the Mir Cosmonauts have selected a Gateway personal computer, a Nordic Track exercise machine, Barbie dolls, telephones, and Chicago Bulls sportswear, to name a few.

At 12:30pm est. Virtual Emporium expects to receive confirmation of their requests electronically at its NYC Store via Energia LTD and Mission Control. At that time, these items will be purchased through Virtual Emporium’s shopping service at http://www.virtualemporium.com using the Cosmonauts’ Visa bank card account. The Cosmonauts will also become permanent members of the Virtual Emporium community by registering for Firefly Passports. Virtual Emporium will be using Firefly’s Passport Office software to offer customers unique, personalized shopping experiences.

“We are grateful to Virtual Emporium for bringing the holiday spirit to the space station, but can you help my family get my presents to me?” said Flight Commander Anatoly Solovyev.

Virtual Emporium, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass., is a leading online shopping community that packages cutting-edge, consumer-oriented technologies with links to the best secure Web merchants. Its online shopping service at http://www.virtualemporium.com and its flagship store at 412 Columbus Avenue in New York City allows consumers to access the top 250 online merchants using a revolutionary shopping interface with a price comparison tool, gift finder, merchandise showcases, and shopping news.

RSC Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia, http://www.energialtd.com) is Russia’s oldest space organization. RSC Energia operates the Mir space station, manufactures the Proton booster’s Block D upper stage and maintains other support facilities for the Russian Space Agency. The Company is also the prime contractor for the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

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