Soyuz Tourist Flights Beginning Soon

Image credit: Space Adventures

Two space tourists will have a chance to fly to the International Space Station in 2005, at a cost of only $20 million each. The flight will include a professional cosmonaut pilot and launch on board a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission is being organized by Space Adventures, the company that organized the flights for Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth. The Soyuz will completely self-sufficient, providing all the supplies required by the passengers and even some additional supplies for the station.

Commercial space flight took a giant leap forward today with the announcement by Space Adventures, Ltd., the leading space experiences company, of its plans to launch the world’s first privately funded mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Space Adventures recently secured a contract with the Russian Aviation & Space Agency (RASA) to fly two explorers to the ISS aboard a new Soyuz TMA spacecraft.

The mission, Space Adventures-1 (SA-1), continues the company’s record of opening the space frontier to explorers other than government astronauts and cosmonauts. The company brokered the flights for the world’s first private space explorers, American businessman Dennis Tito in 2001, and the first African in space, Mark Shuttleworth, in 2002. SA-1 has the potential to establish several world records, and also marks the first private mission to the International Space Station.

Space Adventures seeks candidates fascinated by one of life’s greatest experiences and who support the exploration of space to participate in the expedition. First “space tourist,” Dennis Tito said, “Private space exploration is an important investment into humanity’s future. Commercial human space flight and space tourism are creating the 21st century technologies and economy that will bring the benefits of space to people on Earth. Helping to make that happen is very meaningful. And of course, being in space itself is a truly blissful experience that I am unable to describe in words, it was worth far more than its cost; truly priceless.”

Space Adventures has established this mission through its longstanding partnership with RASA and Russia’s leading aerospace company, RSC Energia. “We are pleased to provide the means for this Space Adventures’ mission and are equally committed to the future of private space travel,” says Sergey Gorbunov, Press Secretary for the Director General of RASA. SA-1 participants will train in Star City, the cosmonaut training center outside of Moscow, familiarizing themselves with the Soyuz TMA spacecraft, experiencing weightlessness in a zero-gravity jet, and learning how to live and operate aboard the ISS. The mission is planned for liftoff in early 2005 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and seats aboard the Soyuz are available for $20 million each. Gorbunov also stated, “In the future, we intend to carry out additional private missions to ISS in cooperation with Space Adventures.”

Space Adventures’ CEO, Eric Anderson, remarks, “After the loss of Columbia, the President said that our journey into space must go on. The advancement of commercial space flight and space tourism should and will continue, to everyone’s advantage. And, this mission in particular has been designed to provide great benefit to all parties, not only for the explorers who fly, but also to the ISS program as a whole.” Anderson emphasized that SA-1 will be self-sufficient, bringing its own food, water and medical supplies and that it may transport supplemental supplies for the resident crew aboard the ISS.

The announcement was made at the renowned Explorers Club in New York City on June 18. Accompanying Anderson at the event were Tito, Shuttleworth, and Gorbunov.

In addition to orbital flights to the ISS, Space Adventures, the world’s leading space flight experiences and space tourism company, offers a wide range of programs, from zero-gravity and Edge of Space flights, cosmonaut training and space flight qualification programs, to reservations on future sub-orbital spacecraft. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, with an office in Moscow, Russia, Space Adventures is the only company to have successfully launched private individuals to the International Space Station. The company’s advisory board comprises Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin; shuttle astronauts Kathy Thornton, Robert (Hoot) Gibson, Charles Walker, Norm Thagard, Sam Durrance and Byron Lichtenberg; and Skylab astronaut Owen Garriott.

Original Source: Space Adventures News Release