By SHIVALI BEST
- The announcement comes from Energia, Russia’s leading space agency
- The firm plans to sell nine tourist places on its Soyuz spacecraft this spring
- Soyuz will fly within the moon’s orbit on the way to the ISS in five or six years
In the race to offer tourists the opportunity to explore space, Russia looks to be inching ahead of its rivals.
The country’s leading aerospace design contractor, Energia, has announced that it will start tourist flights to the moon in 2022.
The firm says it will sell nine places on its Soyuz spacecraft this spring that would allow tourists to fly within the moon’s orbit on the way to the International Space Station.
Russian space firm, Energia, could sell nine places on its Soyuz spacecraft next month, that would allow tourists to fly within the moon’s orbit
Vladimir Solntsev, CEO of Energia, announced the firm’s plans this week.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency, Mr Solntsev said: ‘In particular, we are ready to sign with one of such companies an agreement in March 2017.
‘The flyby around the moon with space tourists could take place within five or six years after the signing of the contract.
‘The conditions are currently being discussed with potential candidates.’
This dramatically moves up the timeline for Energia, who suggested in November that its tourist flights wouldn’t begin until 2031.
Mr Solntsev had told TASS: ‘In the 2030s, we set the task of a manned flight to the moon and in 2031 we plan on landing on the moon.’
The firm has not said how much the nine places will cost, or how it will select the tourists.
So far, only Nasa has managed to land humans on the moon.
During the course of the Apollo missions, 12 astronauts set foot on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972.
In September, Russian space agency Roscosmos revealed that it had started a series of simulations in preparation for the country’s plans to permanently station 12 cosmonauts on the lunar surface.
The flyby around the moon with space tourists could take place within five or six years after the signing of the contract
Researchers are using a unique platform simulating the moon’s gravity, built by RSC Energia in the early 1970s.
The test will determine how easy it would be for cosmonauts to walk on the lunar surface and get out of a rover vehicle.
After getting a clear view of the big picture, experts will move on to logistics and streamlining before starting on designs for permanent lunar bases, rovers, runway facilities, and other important aspects of the mission.