When it rains space news from Russia, it pours. Not only did the news break today about the Russian Space Agencyâ€™s plans to send monkeys to Mars, but also, Russia wants to build an Earth-orbiting factory to build large, interplanetary ships that might be too large to launch from Earth. Additionally, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency said that beginning in 2010, they will likely terminate ferrying space tourists to the International Space Station.
According to the head of Roscosmos Anatoly Perminov, the space agency proposed building a manned assembly complex in Earth orbit and the Russian Security Council supported the idea in an April 11, 2008 meeting. No word on exactly when an orbiting spaceship assembly line would be constructed, but Perminov said it likely wouldnâ€™t be built until after the ISS is completed, which they said would be about 2020. Also, no word if the interplanetary ships will be built for humans or monkeys.
As far as curtailing the program that brings space tourists to the ISS, the Perminov said the increase in crew size on the ISS from the current three members to six in 2009, and then the proposed retirement of the space shuttle in 2010, will put â€œgrowing pressureâ€ on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that carries crews and supplies to the space station. Perminov said they will no longer accept proposals from space tourists, adding that space tourism shouldn’t interfere with scientific research. Roscosmos teamed up with the company Space Adventures beginning in 2001 to bring tourists to the ISS, which seemed to be a fairly lucrative program for the cash-strapped Russian space agency. Existing contracts to bring tourists to the station will be fulfilled, Perminov said.
Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in 2001 when he paid $20 million to ride the Soyuz for a week-long stay on the ISS. The next (and sixth) tourist will be game developer Richard Garriott, scheduled for a Soyuz flight in October 2008.
Original News Source: Lenta Ru (translated)