Thursday, February 22, 2018 by David Williams
Ever planned of going to space and staying there for a short vacation? You soon can, through various commercial space flight options, the latest of which will be from none other than space exploration pioneers Russia — there are plans for a new Russian space tourism program to kick off sometime next year, according to a report.
And exactly what does the upcoming Russian space program entail? According to the report, the Russian plan involves allowing paying customers — the space tourists, that is — to go all the way to the International Space Station (ISS) and go on spacewalks for the very first time. Spacewalking will be just one item in the itinerary, however, as the planned trips are going to be 10 days long.
These upcoming space vacations will be organized by Energia, a well-known Russian space company that already has a history of innovating in the Russian space industry. It is notable for being the company behind the launch of the first Russian man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and is said to be working on a new spacecraft called the NEM-2 — a module that’s capable of transporting at least four and up to six tourists to the ISS.
According to Vladimir Solntsev, the head of the company Energia, they are indeed looking into the prospect of sending tourists to space for spacewalks out on the ISS. “We are discussing the possibility of sending tourists on spacewalks,” he said rather plainly. “Market analysts have confirmed this: wealthy people are ready to pay money for this.”
Sharing their motivation for offering such a service, Solntsev revealed that the planned space trips for tourists are not going to be cheap. The trips, which will allow participants to take photos and capture videos of themselves, will probably cost around $100 million initially, “possibly less for the first tourist,” he said.
Although offering spacewalks might seem like a lofty ambition, that’s nothing compared to what else Energia — and another Russian space company — is planning to do afterward, in the future. Back in December of last year, it was revealed that there are plans to build an ISS-based five-star luxury hotel. This time, the project is lead by the Russian space agency itself, Roscosmos, with cooperation from RKK Energia.
The hotel is described as a “luxury orbital suite” where tourists can stay in one of four private cabins, each measuring two cubic meters and containing personal portholes through which they can look out and see a clear view of the Earth. There will also be a lounge area with a giant 16-inch window, and two separate “hygiene and medical” stations right onboard. Wi-Fi is also going to be made available, as will exercise equipment.
It is said that accommodation on the ISS luxury hotel won’t be cheap: tourists are going to have to pay $40 million per head to make a one- to two-week visit, plus an extra $20 million for an extended month-long stay.
Once again, all of this may sound rather lofty, but keep in mind that the Russian companies that are planning them have given themselves at least half a decade to complete their respective projects. That means that, as of this time’s writing, they are still likely in the planning stages right now, and will take quite a while to start the execution. But make no mistake: it’s going to be something worth spectating from start to finish, even if just for the spectacle of it. Maybe the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) might even learn a thing or two from it.
Read more about space-related innovations in Space.news.