No More Tourists on the ISS?

Article written: 21 Jan , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015


An official from the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said the International Space Station will not be available for visits by space tourists after 2009, the Russian news agency Novosti reported. As the ISS crew grows from three to six, all the seats on the Soyuz-TMA spacecraft will be used by astronauts and cosmonauts from the various international partners of the ISS, not leaving any room for paying tourists. Director Anatoly Perminov said the last commercial flights would be made this year; in March 2009 former Microsoft software guru Charles Simonyi will make his second trip to the space station, and a Kazakh cosmonaut will fly to the ISS in the fall of 2009.

Since 2001 tourists, or “spaceflight participants” have visited the ISS on 10-day trips, riding to the station in the spare seat on the Soyuz. But the crew increase on ISS means that all the available Soyuz seats will be occupied.

However, the space tourism company Space Adventures, which has taken care of the details in getting the tourists to the ISS, and they said they are working to secure additional seats for 2010, and beyond.

The first private citizen to go to the ISS was US citizen Dennis Tito, in 2001. Since then there have been five other tourists including South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth, American Greg Olson, Iranian-American business woman Anousha Ansari, Charles Simonyi, Richard Garriott (son of former US astronaut, Owen Garriott) .

Source: Novasti

14 Responses

  1. Jennifer says

    it always kinda annoyed me that I would have to work my ass off to get to space (as a scientist/ astronaut) but some people could just pay their way. In a way this makes me feel better. Is there any profit on space tourism- there should be- to make it more sustainable!

  2. Maxwell says

    I don’t have a problem with visitors buying tickets to tour a government facility, that’s not unusual in the least. Thousands of folks pay for bus tours to hover dam and the space centers every year.

    I do have an issue with the Russians being the only ones able to sell passage.
    Money spent with the soviets is no longer there to help the newspace industry.

  3. Assi says

    Jennifer, THAT’S Exactly what I was about to say 😀 Can’t agree more!

  4. Yan Luz says

    Ohhhh….Tisk Tisk…

    I was just about to have enough money saved to go on a trip! LOL.

  5. Frank Glover says

    “I do have an issue with the Russians being the only ones able to sell passage.
    Money spent with the soviets is no longer there to help the newspace industry.”

    Of course, were it not for the Russians (who seem to be better capitalists than the US in this respect), people still might not believe that this market even exists. They took orbital space tourism beyond the ‘giggle factor.’

    NewSpace’s job now, is to provide the same kind of service (presumably to a Bigelow-manufactured facility, if ISS continues to be unavailable) cheaper and more often than the Russians do. (So, keep saving that money, people.)

    Oh, and they stopped being ‘Soviets’ quite a while back…

  6. Howard Toburen says

    Could we have stumbled across a way to keep the space shuttle flying?

    I’m not so good at math… but lets assume we would need 2 pilots and perhaps a keeper… That means we could fly four tourists… And perhaps an occasional part, like a control moment gyro.. something that can’t be flown up any other way.. I don’t know what a shuttle mission costs, but it seems clear that, having really perfected it, we shouldn’t just toss it away.

  7. Max says

    “Oh, and they stopped being ‘Soviets’ quite a while back…”

    Maybe to you. :p
    They’ll forever hold that dark portion of my heart that daydreams about destroying half the world with nukes.
    (I’ll take that war over this terrorism mess any day.)

    My earlier point is that spending this kind of money with the Russians old special design bureau is not quite as effective as spending it with an aggressive spaceflight entrepreneur.

    Yes they showed the world theres a market… then they took the cash to buy more Soyuz parts.
    It won’t become commercially viable to continue these flights and its not advancing anyone’s technology.

  8. Maxwell says

    The shuttle purportedly costs in the area of $500 million per flight. Soyuz supposedly costs 50 to 65 mil.
    These aren’t very accurate figures, but its a good deal more than the 20 million they charge tourists. Meaning there’s no profit unless you full crew a Soyuz with paying passengers.

    The Russians were probably not doing it for the money, of course.

  9. Howard Toburen says

    They were doing it just to annoy us?

    I stand by my point though. If we have to send up a shuttle with parts… and we will, I am sure, taking up a few tourists would defray part of the cost. And it would annoy the Russians right back.

    Somehow, letting Richard Branson fly to the ISS with tourists worries me. Remember the supply rocket crashing into Mir? That sort of thing can ruin your whole day!

    Just to be clear… my point is that it’s stupid to retire the shuttle now that we have greatly improved its safety.

  10. Max says

    Part annoyance to us, part gift to wealthy businessmen, and part propaganda I’d figure.

    From what I understand (at least with the flight of Lord British) they weren’t exactly buying a luxury liner ticket either.
    They pay the fee and then become part of the soviet space program. Learning fulfill an active role in the upcoming mission.
    We’ve flown guests on US space craft before under similar rules… only the participants were selected by politics rather than income.

  11. Max says

    Not to blog on too long but to finish my thought:
    The problem with the shuttle is its booster system.
    The orbiters themselves are works of art with no safe means to deliver into space. To that end we aren’t much safer now than we were after challenger.

    I think shuttles will come back in the not too distant future. For right now tho we have too many big things that need doing and can’t wait on their redevelopment.

    Perhaps the best way is to leave it in the hands of entrepreneurs (like Branson, Elon, and Burt) who will approach the problem with a pragmatic eye and less political “build it in my state!” intrusion.

  12. Simon Douglass says

    “it always kinda annoyed me that I would have to work my ass off to get to space (as a scientist/ astronaut) but some people could just pay their way. In a way this makes me feel better. Is there any profit on space tourism- there should be- to make it more sustainable!”

    Jennifer, you actually only need a bachelors degree and 3 years experience in a related field in order to apply to become an astronaut. I would hardly call that ‘working my ass off’.

    Sounds like you’re just jealous and vindictive of the people that DO actually ‘work their ass off’ in order to create great wealth for themselves, so that they can afford to ‘just pay their way’ to achieving their dream of visiting space.

    Instead of just ‘feeling better’ about peoples misfortune, how about just getting off your own ‘ass’ and do some study or attend some seminars on wealth creation, so that you can actually ACHIEVE such a dream yourself!!!

  13. Howard Toburen says

    Somehow I still wonder if extra fuel, supplies, etc. couldn’t get the shuttle up to higher orbit. I don’t really think the shuttles are 60’s technology… updated they’ve been.

    I know there will eventually be new vehicles that will be able to fly to orbit and land. But this now… we have a hugely expensive satellite dead in geosynchronous orbit right now.

  14. Max says

    The only thing that would save the shuttle is someone sorting out how to make it fulfill its original promise of cheap and regular access… thats highly unlikely.

    At the moment its a system of diminishing returns. We can put allot of money in, but she wont be making anything near geosynchronous or lunar orbit.

    NASA needs to get back into the exploration game it was designed for. To that end they can operate just fine with capsules until someone figures out a space plane that works.

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