Friday, June 29, 2007

Lunar Adventures

Space Adventures, the company that sells tourist trips to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft, is now putting together a plan for private lunar flights.

The flights would not go into orbit around the Moon. Rather, the flights will follow a trajectory that will swing the ship around the Moon and bring it back to Earth. Going into lunar orbit would no doubt be a more attractive offering, but it would also be much riskier. A rocket engine would be required to put the ship into and get it out of lunar orbit. If that engine failed either time, the flight would end in disaster,

The Soyuz would be used in the flights. As Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson points out, the Soyuz was designed to be a lunar craft, even though it has yet to carry anyone beyond low Earth orbit. A lunar flight from SA would have one pilot and two tourists, with each tourist seat costing $100 million. No date for the first lunar flight has been announced, but Anderson (no relation to me) said interest is strong. He also said he is confident the Soyuz would be up to the the flight even without planned upgrades.

Space Adventures is also planning to offer tourists the possibility of a spacewalk, possibly beginning in 2009.

No comments: