Space Adventures offering new tourist flights in 2013
Well, that's our vacation sorted: Space Adventures says it has three seats for sale for 2013 flights to the International Space Station.
It's signed a deal with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three ten-day trips, thanks to the increase of Soyuz production from four to five spacecraft per year. The only snag is that they're likely to cost around $35,000 each.
The future of tourist flights had been in doubt following the decision to retire the US Shuttle fleet.
"We are extremely excited to announce this agreement and would like to thank our Russian partners in increasing Soyuz production and providing Space Adventures these well sought-after transportation services on the only commercially available manned spacecraft currently in operation," said Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures.
"Since Guy Laliberte's mission, there has been an increase of interest by private individuals, organizations and commercial entities seeking ways to access the space station. We have been speaking with these parties about science, education and multi-media programs and hope to make some major announcements in the coming year."
Space Adventures launched Dennis Tito, the world's first privately-funded space explorer, ten years ago, and has since arranged seven additional missions to the ISS. The company says its clients have spent almost three months in space in total.
It's also touting future flights around the moon, zero-gravity flights, cosmonaut training and spaceflight qualification programs.
"We are very pleased to continue space tourism with Space Adventures," said Alexei Krasnov, director of human spaceflight at the FSA.
"Also, the addition of a fifth Soyuz spacecraft to the current manifest will add flexibility and redundancy to our ISS transportation capabilities. We welcome the opportunity to increase our efforts to meet the public demand for access to space."