In March 2010, due to an increase in the International Space Station (ISS) crew size, Russia announced a halt its space tourism service which put seven customers into space between 2001 and 2009 for a multi-million dollar fee. Now Space Adventures, the same company responsible for putting the world’s first privately-funded space tourist, Dennis Tito, into orbit in 2001, has announced that it will once again be offering commercial space tourism opportunities beginning in 2013.
When Russia announced it a halt to space tourism last year, it always appeared that it would only be temporary. At the time, the company responsible for the Soyuz spacecraft that carried the space tourists into orbit, Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia), said that it planned to increase Soyuz production from four to five spacecraft per year.
The planned increase in production has now enabled Space Adventures, through an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and RSC Energia, to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the ISS, beginning in 2013. Each flight will allow the space tourist to spend approximately 10 days in space.
"We are extremely excited to announce this agreement and would like to thank our Russian partners in increasing Soyuz production and providing Space Adventures these well sought-after transportation services on the only commercially available manned spacecraft currently in operation," said Eric Anderson, Chairman of Space Adventures.
The last space tourist to take advantage of the Space Adventures service before it was suspended was Canadian Guy Laliberté, who reached orbit on September 30, 2009. Since then, there have been numerous developments in the space tourism field with a number of players looking to get in on the action. While some may be a little ambitious, others, such as Virgin Galactic, are already well on the way to launching paying customers into space – although, only for short duration sub-orbital flights.