The private spaceflight company Excalibur Almaz hopes to offer wealthy tourists one week orbital flights as early as 2013, on board former top-secret russian spacecrafts.
This space tourism project started in 2009; on January 5 this year, Excalibur Almaz retrieved two space station modules partly built in Russia during the 1970s. They were transported to the Isle of man, the company’s home port.
Panoramic view on Earth
Excalibur Almaz also bought four reusable spaceships. One of them already underwent two flights and might be used before the stations. The company wants renovate them in order to offer space missions to private individuals, companies, institutes or governments.
As for the two Almaz space stations, they are approximately 11m long, 4m in diameter and have the biggest windows ever designed for a spaceship: more than 2m of panoramic view on Earth and space!
At the time being, Excalibur Almaz hasn’t mentioned anything about the way these spacecrafts will be put in orbit. A priori, only the Proton and Ariane 5 booster rockets would have the required power.
A former military project
Almaz (‘diamond’ in Russian) was a military space program of the Soviet Union. It consisted in a habitable orbital station, reusable spaceships designed to transport three people, a freight capsule sending information to earth, as well as ground installations. Everything was successfully tested, on the ground and in space.
Tourism for the privileged
The first orbital flights should take place in the reusable capsules. Excalibur Almaz indicated that the space stations are part of a project on the long-run. It will be profitable to launch them and maintain them in orbit when the company will carry out six flights a year or more.
For a one week trip, the cost will be 35 million dollars!
Of course, Excalibur Almaz is not the only company in the race, Space X and Virgin Galactic have also completed their own test flights. The latter is planning to send private individual in space by the end of this year.