Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Moscow Reopens for Space Tourism

The era of space tourism began in 2001, when the American multimillionaire Dennis Tito bought a ticket to the International Space Station aboard a three-person Russian Soyuz craft. Other private space travelers followed, but these trips were halted in 2009: the expansion of the station’s crew from three to six required that all Soyuz seats be reserved for crew members.

However, the larger crew meant Russia had to expand its production capacity so it could launch four, rather than two, Soyuz spacecraft annually. In fact, with current capacity a fifth vehicle could be fabricated per year, if a customer willing to pay for the entire spacecraft shows up. These vehicles are the latest “digital Soyuz” model, which can be flown by a single professional cosmonaut, leaving room for two paying passengers—twice as many as previously. After fruitless negotiations last year with current station partners as well as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, and Malaysia, the Russians kicked off 2011 by signing a contract with Space Adventures, the firm that had managed the earlier tourist flights, to begin offering seats on the extra Soyuz in 2013.

Other recent announcements from Moscow have mentioned suborbital tourist hops by a rocket plane mounted atop an airliner (similar to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo) and an orbital hotel. But these are paper proposals. A more serious contender is the Excalibur Almaz project, which seeks to purchase, recertify, and fly a little-known type of spacecraft that was mothballed during the Soviet era. That effort has already attracted Western investors.

The latest Insider Conversation is live! Listen to the story behind the story.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.