Thursday, June 12, 2008

Space Adventures Announces First Private ISS Space Flight

Okay, remember a week ago when I mentioned that Space Adventures was planning on releasing two big pieces of news? Well, those two pieces of news (the next space tourist and the future of Space Adventures' orbital flights) turn out to be quite closely related, and the latter is very exciting.

First off, the next announced space tourist that Space Adventures will send up will be Sergey Brin, one of Google's co-founders, and his space flight is scheduled for 2011. He has made a payment of $5 million toward the total amount for the flight, in a new program called the "Orbital Mission Explorer's Circle" in which potential astronauts may make payments toward future spaceflights that are transferable to others. There are six founding members of this circle, but only Sergey Brin has been announced.

Wait, 2011? That's past the Russians' cutoff date for the transport of space tourists into orbit alongside cosmonauts, you say?

Well, in the extremely unlikely event that you actually said that, I will respond with the second piece of news. Space Adventures has announced that after cooperative tourists flights are cut off in 2010, they will be cooperating with the Russian Federal Space Agency to launch fully private flights to the International Space Station using the Russian Soyuz capsules. The first of these flights is to be in 2011, with potentially more to come. Each flight will take up two tourists, a pilot, and supplies for the space station.

Other more minor announcements include the planning for Space Adventures to ramp up the weightless parabolic flight operations of Zero-G (which they bought earlier this year) to include 10,000 passengers per year, and perhaps eventually 100,000 per year. Also, Space Adventures is looking into the possibility of partnering with one or more companies to offer suborbital spaceflights. Virgin Galactic was mentioned, but Space Adventures doesn't plan to make any specific announcements in this area until suborbital tourist flights are up and running.

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35

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