Plans are underway to build a modified Russian Soyuz TMA spaceship for commercial space flights.
As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first
American into space this week, another organization is looking ahead to
the day when ordinary citizens can orbit the globe-or moon--with plans
for a modified Russian Soyuz TMA spaceship for commercial space
flights. Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human
space missions to the global marketplace, outlined its forecast for
commercial orbital spaceflight and announced details of how additional
living space would be made available during the company's planned
As part of a market sizing exercise for NASA's Commercial Crew
Development bid, submitted on behalf of the Boeing Company, Space
Adventures estimated that by 2020 approximately 140 more private
individuals will have launched to orbital space, with participants that
would include private individuals, corporate, university and non-profit
researchers, lottery winners and journalists. Destinations would
include the ISS (International Space Station), commercial space
stations and orbital free-flys.
"As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Dennis Tito's pioneering
orbital spaceflight, and the seven other private spaceflight missions
that have launched since, we need to stay focused on the future. As
always, I remain optimistic; but, there will only be a robust market
when there is more than one commercial launch provider and more than
one destination for private missions in low-Earth orbit," said Eric
Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures. "We must credit Dennis Tito for
helping to create the business model for space tourism. If it were not
for him, the commercial spaceflight industry would not have progressed
as far as it has to date."
In working toward the goal of extending private space exploration
beyond low-Earth orbit, Space Adventures is also continuing to pursue
its planned circumlunar mission. After consultation with Rocket Space
Corporation Energia, modifications to the Soyuz TMA configuration have
been agreed upon, the company announced. Anderson said the most
important of these modifications is the addition of a second habitation
module to the Soyuz TMA lunar complex. The additional module would
launch with the Block DM propulsion module and rendezvous with the
Soyuz spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.
"The next 10 years will be critical for the commercial spaceflight
industry with new vehicles and destinations coming online," Anderson
said. "But, in order to truly develop the industry and extend the reach
of humanity over the course of time, there will need to be breakthrough
discoveries made and innovative propulsion systems designed that will
bring the solar system into our economic sphere of influence."
The company currently offers a variety of programs such as the
availability today for spaceflight missions to the ISS and around the
moon, zero gravity flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight
qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital
spacecraft. Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin is among Space Adventures
"Space Adventures will once again grace the pages of aerospace
history, when the first private circumlunar mission launches. We have
sold one of the two seats for this flight and anticipate that the
launch will occur in 2015," said Richard Garriott, vice-chairman of
Space Adventures. "Having flown on the Soyuz, I can attest to how
comfortable the spacecraft is, but the addition of the second
habitation module will only make the flight that more enjoyable."
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.