Space tourism for all

The Russian Space Agency is eager to expand its travel program, which sends enthusiasts to the International Space Station. RT spoke to Anatoly Perminov, head of the organization, to find out when tickets to orbit will be available once again.

Perminov says that although space tourism is growing, wannabe cosmonauts will have to wait a few more years.

“We would like to resume the space tourism program. Unfortunately we’re unable to do it now and we won’t be until space shuttles or other spacecraft resume delivering space crews to the ISS, which won’t happen until 2015 or even 2017, according to NASA experts. The only other possibility is if we build a new spacecraft within the next two years – then we’ll be able to take space tourists to the ISS,” he stressed.

In the near future, only a few people will be able to afford to go to space, Perminov pointed out.

“We have many people who want to go to space. We have many applications from various countries, both official requests and applications from common people. I guess, you can’t really call somebody a common person if they can pay more than US$50 million for a flight, because that’s approximately what a space tourist will have to pay,” Perminov said, adding:

“The price has gone up a little due to currency rate fluctuations and because of the rising cost of materials.”

However, there are effectively no restrictions for such flights as long as a person is healthy.

“One day space tourism will definitely become available to ordinary people. When we first started sending tourists to space we straightaway noticed that they felt quite well during short flights. All you need is to be a normal healthy person,” said Perminov.

Speaking about Russia’s space cooperation with other countries, he stressed its importance for Russia.

”We have cooperation agreements with 40 countries. With some of them we don’t have any serious joint projects, even though we have an agreement, but in some cases we have very big projects. We actively work with China on many programs. We cooperate with India on moon exploration, carrier rocket program and some other issues like the GLONASS navigation system. We also work with Japan a lot. In Europe, it is France, Germany and Italy that are our biggest partners,” he said, adding: “Of course in terms of finance these programs are inferior to the ISS project, but their significance to science and the future is great.”

As for the Mars 500 program, Perminov believes it is primarily important in terms of psychology.

”This project is international. The fact that the European Space Agency and China take part in it indicates how important this project is. As for specific results, we have to wait for the project to be completed. The nature of the experiment is mostly psychological. We want to know if a crew can stay together for a long time and still perform their duties.”