Space Adventures gears up for private Moon mission in 2015

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Space Adventures, the only company offering tourist orbital spaceflights, has offered to equip the Russian Soyuz TMA spaceship with additional living space for eight-day commercial flights around the Moon, according to RIA news agency in Moscow.

The firm announced on April 28 that it would offer Moon orbit tourist trips, albeit with a price tag of around $150 million per seat.

"After consultation with Rocket Space Energia [the Soyuz TMA design authority], modifications to the Soyuz TMA configuration have been agreed. The most important is the addition of a second habitation module to the Soyuz TMA lunar complex," said Space Adventures.

soyuz capsule, space adventures
 © Space Adventures

A Moon tour mission would include separate launches of a Soyuz and the upper stage, their docking in a low-Earth orbit, a flight to the Moon with the upper-stage engine, the separation of Soyuz from the upper-stage rocket, an orbit around the Moon, return to Earth and landing.

Space Adventures is selecting candidates for the next space tour together with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Vice-chairman Richard Garriott said the company has sold one of the two seats for the flight. He expects the launch to take place 2015.

Sergei Krikalyov, chief executive of Russia's Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center, said the centre is ready to train a professional cosmonaut and a space tourist for the future flight.