Russia to offer tourists ISS spacewalks


Russia is planning to offer spacewalks for the first time to paying tourists who travel to the International Space Station (ISS).

According to Vladimir Solntsev, the president of Russia's partly state-owned space company Energia, Russia is "discussing the possibility of sending tourists on spacewalks," he told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

"Market analysts have confirmed [that] wealthy people are ready to pay money for this," Mr Solntsev said, adding that Energia had received interest in a partnership from Boeing.

The Russian Space Agency is the only organisation that has previously done orbital space tourism missions, although companies in the US are attempting to achieve this privately – all targeting the extremely wealthy as customers.

The ISS, which is owned and used according to a number of intergovernmental treaties and agreements, has been in orbit since 1998.

Dennis Tito, a former NASA scientist who made his wealth after founding investment management firm Wilshire Associates, became the first space tourist when he travelled to the ISS for eight days in 2001.

Image:Space tourists may be able to travel outside of the station for the first time

Six further space tourists have visited the station, the most recent being Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in 2009, each paying between $20m-$40m (£14m-£28m).

Mr Solntsev said the next generation of space tourists could expect to pay $100m (£70m) for the opportunity to "go out on a spacewalk and make a film, (or) a video clip".

More from International Space Station

Energia is currently developing a module which is capable of transporting up to six people to the ISS at one time, specifically to target the tourist market.

"It should be launched in 2019," said Mr Solntsev, "Basically it will be comfortable, as much as that is possible in space."

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