Space Tourism – the Soyuz Space Launch

Monday, 13 October 2008

Soyuz LaunchIt’s got to be the ultimate tourist trip, blasting off on a Russian Soyuz up to the International Space Station for a couple of weeks of circling the earth every 93 minutes. Want to go? Well call Space Adventures for your booking, a ticket is US$30 million plus and you have to spend six months in training although that does include the time you spend learning Russian.







Cosmonaut Training
Cosmonaut Training
Training in a Soyuz capsule at Star City outside Moscow

No, I didn’t go up but I was there for the 12 October launch of Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov (Russian cosmonaut), Mike Fincke (NASA astronaut) and Richard Garriott (computer game entrepreneur). I visited the cosmonaut training centre at Star City outside Moscow, flew down to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, had a close up look at the Soyuz FG launcher the evening before the launch, met with Richard Garriott and his back up Nik Halick (they were behind glass, in quarantine) and stood at dawn to see the Soyuz crew (followed by an assortment of support crew which even included an orthodox priest) emerge from their ‘hotel’.

Heading to the launcher
Heading to the launcher
The Russian cosmonaut, American astronaut and the ‘space travel participant’ head to their bus ride to the launcher.

Who is interested in space travel?
Simonyi demonstrates computer
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome museum Charles Simonyi explains a ‘50s era Russian computer to Larry Page, Peter Diamandis and Sergey Brin.

As interesting as the rocket launch was my fellow passengers – our little group of Richard Garriott supporters included Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, Peter Diamandis of the X Prize, Charles Simonyi, formerly of Microsoft and a 2007 space tourist, and assorted other space tourism followers.

Practise space station
Practise space station
This is just the Russian part of the International Space Station at the Star City cosmonaut training centre.

CentrifugeThe Star City centrifuge trains cosmonauts for the high G force stresses of space travel.








Space Station in Pool
Space station in pool
Space walk training takes place around a space station submerged in a pool at the Star City training centre.

Soyuz launch
Soyuz launch 400
The ultimate test of a tourist destination is does it attract repeat visitors? Well, despite the cost Charles Simonyi has signed up for a repeat visit to the space station. Of course these days even NASA are tourists, they pay the Russians US$46.8 million for every seat they buy on Soyuz.