The Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energia is capable of providing a flight around the Moon on board a Soyuz spacecraft in the next few years, Corporation president and general director Vitaly Lopota told Interfax on Monday.
"We are working thoroughly with our partners from Space Adventures. We are contemplating all cooperation options with them and we are capable of doing that, i.e. flying a Soyuz around the Moon in 2017-2018. Technically, it is possible," he said.
Lopota was commenting on a report published on the website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, citing Space Adventures President Tom Shelley who said that his company signed contracts with two tourists, whose names are not disclosed, on flying them around the Moon. The Soyuz lift-off is possible in 2017 or 2018. The ship must be piloted by a professional Russian cosmonaut. One seat aboard the ship costs $150 million.
It was reported earlier that British singer Sarah Brightman will go on a ten-day flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 4, 2015. Her pre-flight training is due to begin at the Cosmonaut Training Center on January 12, 2015. Brightman is expected to fly in the company of Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen.
Marketing services for organizing space tourist flights to the ISS on board Russian Soyuz ships are provided by SpaceAdventures.
In all, seven tourists have been in space since 2001.
Recently, NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) signed an agreement to send foreign astronauts to the ISS on board Russia's Soyuz. Each seat set NASA back $76 million.
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