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Moscow (Voice of Russia) May 07, 2013
More and more private companies are now making suggestions to tourists to become cosmonauts and visit the Earth's orbit. Specialists say though that full-scale space flights are out of the question here. The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos remains the monopolist in this field.
A Japanese journalist, Toyohiro Akiyama, gave a start to space tourism. In the early 90s of the last century he went to the Soviet orbital station "Mir". True, a telecompany paid for the flight of its employee.
However, U.S. businessman Dennis Tito became a pioneer of real space tourism. He was sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in April of 2001. Another 6 people have since used the Roscosmos flight services. U.S. billionaire Charles Simonyi has made 2 commercial space flights.
Although almost all space tourists have so far been U.S. citizens, the USA sends nobody to outer space on a commercial basis. Academician Alexander Zheleznyakov from the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.Tsiolkovsky has the following comments: "If we start talking about the modern stage, we should say that Americans are currently not involved in the organization of piloted flights.
"Hence, they are unable to send a space tourist together with professionals. We are in this business, and we carry Americans, among others, to the space station, and if an opportunity arises and should there be a vacant seat, we can take a tourist there too."
As compared to the beginning of the practice of space flights, the prices have visibly gone up. If Dennis Tito paid 20 million dollars for his space flight, a Canadian citizen, Guy Laliberte, paid 35 million dollars for his space flight in 2009.
Meanwhile, more and more private firms put space flights on their offer list. And their prices are much lower than the Roscosmos prices. The cost of one ticket in a private firm reaches hundreds of thousands dollars. However, any real space flight is out of the question here too, Alexander Zheleznyakov says.
"The point is that many companies that appeared on that market recently include suborbital flights in their services while Roscosmos is the only agency that can offer an orbital flight. These two are different things. A suborbital flight is actually a jump into space. Those who will be on board a spacecraft will experience zero gravity for 5 to 8 minutes, not more."
Experts are sure that to talk about turning space tourism into a full-value industry is somewhat premature at the moment. And what matters here is readiness to run risks, not money as such, Head of the Institute of Space Policy Ivan Moiseyev said.
Space has become closer and more affordable over the past decade. And not only for rich people. Last year Russian Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, for the first time, held an opencompetition for the selection of candidates for a cosmonaut team.
All volunteers had a chance to test themselves. Approximately 300 applications were submitted. Finally, 8 candidates were chosen. It is planned that the next competition will be held next year.
Source: Voice of Russia
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