Russian space agency Roscosmos has revealed plans to resume tourist flights to the International Space Station by 2021.
In a press release published on the Roscosmos website, agency officials revealed that a contract had been signed for the short-term stay of two “non-professional astronauts” aboard the ISS. The contract is part of a partnership between Roscosmos and American space tourism company, Space Adventures.
Although the cost of the out-this-world adventure was not revealed, the press release did state that the cost of the launch vehicle and all associated costs would be covered by the two space tourists. The statement goes on to reveal that the agency plans to use funds raised from the launch to upgrade production facilities at the Progress Rocket Space Centre. The cost of each seat aboard the launch will, as a result, likely be significantly higher than the $81-million-a-seat rate NASA pays.
The planned launch of the two space tourists will not be a first for Roscosmos. The agency launched the world’s first “fee-paying” space tourist, Dennis Tito in April 2001. The American businessman spent seven days aboard the ISS.
Following Tito, a total of 6 more space tourists launched aboard Russia Soyuz rockets over the next decade. In 2011, Roscosmos was forced to put the programme on hold after the United States Space Shuttle was retired and the Soyuz became the only means of accessing the ISS.
As the United States prepares to resume crewed flights aboard home-grown launch vehicles, Roscosmos will again be able to accommodate space tourists.