Space tourists will have the chance to strap in and fly to orbit beginning in 2013, as the company that sent up the first space tourists comes back from hiatus.
Space Adventures reached an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia to offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, beginning in 2013.
Each flight will be short duration, approximately 10 days, and will contribute to the increase of launch capacity to the ISS. Tickets are pricey, however, starting at $20 million.
"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, in a statement.
Space Adventures launched Dennis Tito, the first space tourist (or, in the parlance of the company, privately-funded space explorer) 10 years ago. Seven other missions with paying passengers have flown since.
"We are very pleased to continue space tourism with Space Adventures. Also, the addition of a fifth Soyuz spacecraft to the current manifest will add flexibility and redundancy to our ISS transportation capabilities. We welcome the opportunity to increase our efforts to meet the public demand for access to space," said Alexei Krasnov, Director of Human Spaceflight of FSA, in a statement.
Space Adventures is based in Vienna, Va. with an office in Moscow. It offers programs such as spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, Zero-Gravity flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecraft.