Russia to Resume Space Tourism in 2018
Nearly a decade after trimming its space tourism program, Russia is set to send a paying customer into space in 2018, according to the Associated Press.
Plus, in a report released this week, Russian spacecraft manufacturer RKK Energia stated that it plans to resume space tourism in the coming years in order to counterbalance a projected decline in manned space flights.
For now, all eyes are on British singer Sarah Brightman, who is scheduled to blast off on Sept.1, 2015.
Brightman recently took to Twitter to express her excitement:
I feel very fortunate to be fulfilling my dream of travelling to Space. I'm excited to say, training is going well! pic.twitter.com/tRqeBRtdTn— Sarah Brightman (@SarahBrightman) March 20, 2015
From 2001 to 2009, Russia sent more than half of a dozen tourists into space to visit the International Space Station before cutting back the program. And when the U.S. shut down its Space Shuttle program four years ago, launching into orbit required a Russian Soyuz rocket.
Most recently, Brightman has been studying up on the Soyuz rocket's docking system, as documented on her Twitter account:
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Soyuz Docking system this week. pic.twitter.com/ouFlQMEsUF— Sarah Brightman (@SarahBrightman) March 19, 2015
Satoshi and I are learning about the Soyuz docking system. Everything is so incredibly interesting! pic.twitter.com/L1NoEj1OPQ— Sarah Brightman (@SarahBrightman) March 21, 2015
Despite the fascination surrounding space tourism, the industry has yet to truly take off.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk's SpaceX are among the most notable space tourism ventures hoping to propel the industry. However, last year's fatal test crash of Virgin's SpaceShipTwo craft in the Mojave Desert was seen as a major setback.
Nonetheless, last month Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides announced that the company would continue space flight testing in 2015.
As technology continues to improve and investors latch on, it appears that the future of the industry will ultimately be decided by whether the demand for commercial space tourism is strong enough. And if so, safety and affordability will likely emerge as the biggest obstacles in successfully meeting that demand.
More by Patrick Clarke
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