Space Adventures' big announcement about potential tourists buying a stake in the company is a curious one for reasons I will explain below
Alan Boyle's Cosmic log blog nicely sets out the details of this deal that apparently could see a privately launched Soyuz
But I have my doubts about Alan's suggestion that Space Advenures can bid against NASA for seats on Soyuz as NASA will be buying Soyuz so it can meet its Internatonal Space Station obligations
As for the private Soyuz flight, it can't possibly be three tourists on one Soyuz as the Russians and ISS partners would require a qualified Soyuz commander to ensure a safe docking. So you now have two tourists going up but where will they dock?
Let me explain. Next April and May Soyuz spacecraft will deliver six crew to the station, three with the April flight and three with the May flight
The April three will return in October and two weeks after they have landed a crew of three will launch to the ISS, returning the station compliment to six. The May crew return in November and a replacement crew launch that month also. This is the transport operation that the ISS partners have agreed
That means that from 2010 any private Soyuz flight has a two week window four times a year when a docking port will be available at ISS. But this does not mean a 14-day trip as flight rules regarding arrivals and departures require a period of time between each and so I would guess that the flight is more likely to stick to the 10-day tourist mission that has previously occured
On the price, the customers will have to pay, for a private flight, for an Energia Soyuz spacecraft and its Samara Space Center Soyuz booster plus all the ground ops and launch control and flight management, there and back, and the post-mission recovery from the Steppes and the hire of a Soyuz commander for ten-days at least - assuming the commander does not require extra training. You can see that this is not going to be $30 million per tourist, more like $50 million plus!
I hope to get more details soon as I will call Space Adventures to write a story for Flight International magazine
Just quickly coming back to the idea of buying a NASA seat on Soyuz. I think it is quite clear from the agreed method of transporting the six ISS crew that if you give a spare seat on a Soyuz going up in 2011, or 2010 or 2009, then that person is not coming down for months. So unless the Russians have been prepared to sell a six month stay at the ISS I can't see how this can happen
It's time for more of those news bites and today I am writing this blog entry from San Diego, California no less
Read the complete post at http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2008/06/space-news-bites-11-june.html
Wed, Jun 11 2008 4:25 PM
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