Russian space chief denies knowledge of private Soyuz agreement

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Space Adventures has rejected suggestions that a statement on Russia's Federal Space Agency website undermines its 11 June claim to a private International Space Station flight agreement.

The FSA has not replied to Flight International's request for clarification on the statement that reproduces a Russian media report quoting agency head Anatoly Perminov as saying: "I have no information about such plans. Space tourism is temporarily suspended." This was posted the day after the Space Adventures' 11 June announcement.

On 11 June Virginia based-Space Adventures, which has sent five tourists on 10-day ISS missions with the FSA, announced it had an arrangement for a private ISS flight in 2011, quoting agency official Alexey Krasnov. The flight has two tourist seats in the three-person Soyuz spacecraft, piloted by a cosmonaut Soyuz commander.

Space Adventures' chief executive Eric Anderson says: "What the statement suggests is that Perminov had not been informed of any specific plan or date for [Sergey] Brin to fly," referring to Space Adventures' other 11 June announcement about Google founder Brin investing $5 million in the company.

The last opportunity for a 10-day ISS tourist flight is April next year, while Space Adventures' sixth customer, Richard Garriott, is to fly in October.

Anderson confirms that NASA would have to be involved in the private Soyuz flight's mission management. When asked about the extremely limited docking opportunities for what would be a third Soyuz at station, Anderson said: "These types of missions...depend on a wide range of factors between now and 2011."

Space Adventures also had an agreement with the FSA for the development of a suborbital flight system, but this fell through.