If you ever wanted to take a trip to the International Space Station, or fly on board a rocket into orbit, now’s your chance. Space Adventures, the only commercial company to have sent private, paying, space tourists to the space station, has announced that it will have three seats available per year on a Russian Soyuz rocket starting in 2013.
The announcement resumes a business that was put to rest in 2009 after eight flights, or about one per year, and seven people—billionaire Charles Simonyi actually flew twice. The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) decided to not fly any more private space tourists to the station on board its Soyuz spacecraft because the agency is soon to be the sole transporter of U.S., European, Canadian, and Japanese astronauts to ISS. The U.S. space shuttles are set to retire this year and a new U.S. launch vehicle, expected to be SpaceX’s Falcon 9, will not be ready until 2015. In addition, in 2009 the space station increased its capacity from three crew members to six, increasing demand to fly to low Earth orbit.
Space Adventures agreement with Roscosmos for the flights is in large part due to the agency’s plans to increase production of the Soyuz spacecraft, from four to five spacecrafts per year. For those willing, the seats can be bought now for a high cost—tens of millions of dollars—and trips last an average of 10 days.