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This Nasa photo obtained January 26, 2018 shows the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship with its dual outstretched solar arrays attached to the Harmony module as the International Space Station orbited above Brazil on January 7, 2018. Russia is planning to send space tourists in the coming years. Photo: AFP 

Russia will send tourists to the International Space Station

The cost of such a trip could be around US$100 million – or less, for the first traveller


Russia is planning to send paying tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time, an official from the country’s space industry said on Thursday. 

“We are discussing the possibility of sending tourists on spacewalks,” Vladimir Solntsev, the head of Russian space company Energia, told Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.  

“Market analysts have confirmed this: wealthy people are ready to pay money for this,” Solntsev told the paper. 

He said the cost of such a trip could be around US$100 million (80 million euros), “possibly less for the first tourist”. 

The tourists will be able to “go out on a spacewalk and make a film, [or] a video clip”. 

Energia, which was behind the launch of the first man in space Yuri Gagarin in 1961, is currently building a new module dubbed NEM-2 to transport tourists to the ISS. 

Solntsev said the NEM-2, the name of which is still to be confirmed, will accommodate four to six people. It will be fitted with “comfortable” cabins, two toilets and internet access.

In this image made from video provided by Nasa, astronauts Scott Tingle, Joe Acaba, Norishige Kanai, aboard the International Space Station, take questions from students at Framingham State University in Framingham, Massachusetts, on January 19, 2018. Russia is now planning to send space tourists to the station. Photo: Nasa via AP

“It should be launched in 2019,” he said.

“Basically it will be comfortable, as much as that is possible in space,” the space official was quoted as saying. 

He added that American aircraft manufacturer Boeing was interested in becoming a partner in the project. 

Five to six tourists a year will be able to take a space trip lasting up to 10 days, Solntsev said. 

Space tourism is a developing sector currently dominated by Western companies, such as the US-based Virgin Galactic, which unveiled its commercial SpaceShipTwo in 2016. 

Russia sent the Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, into space in 2009. The billionaire spent two weeks on the ISS.

Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari became the first female space tourist in 2006.