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by Olga Yazhgunovich
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Jun 24, 2014
The moon will welcome its first tourists as early as 2017, Space Adventures, a US-based space tourism company, said Wednesday. According to Space Adventures' head Tom Shelley, two brave folks have agreed to spend a fortune on the tickets, the MIT Technological Review reported.
The company did not disclose the customers' names. The two will pay 150 million dollars each for a one-day tour around the ISS on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft monitored by professional cosmonauts.
The package also includes training in the Mission Control Center in Russia's Star City, where all cosmonauts are preparing for their missions and a 17-day flight to the moon and back. This is a unique chance to join the team of 18 moon-conquerors (all them of them are male Apollo astronauts) who landed on the moon as part of six missions from July 1969 to December 1972.
Space Adventures has sold tickets to eight so-called space tourists since 2001 but those were trips from orbiting the earth to docking with the International Space Station.
Space Adventures describes the mission as the good old deep space exploration, as no human has left low earth orbit since the Apollo 17 mission of 1972, which was NASA's final flight to the moon.
"Mankind can only progress to become a space faring race by taking the small steps necessary to reduce the costs of access to space. This mission will be one of those small, but very significant steps," Space Adventures said on its website.
The planned mission is also significant for the Russian space program because the Soyuz vehicle, which was designed for a Soviet mission to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s, has never flown beyond low earth orbit.
"We are carefully working with our partners from Space Adventures. We are exploring all possible avenues of cooperation with them, and we can do this - circle the moon in 2017 to 2018 on Soyuz. Technically it is possible," Vitaly Lopota, CEO of Energia company, which makes the Soyuz craft told Interfax on Monday.
According to Moscow Times, NASA currently buys rides to the International Space Station for its astronauts $76 million a seat, according to the most recent contract signed between the US space agency and its Russian counterpart.
Space Adventures is currently arranging a flight for British singer Sarah Brightman that is scheduled for 2015.
Source: Voice Of Russia
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