One of the founding fathers of internet giant Google, a native of the USSR, Sergey Brin, intends to fly to the International Space Station as a tourist in 2011. Brin has already wired $5 million to Space Adventures. This Virginia-based company has a contract with Russia’s Roskosmos Space Agency to select private passengers on board Soyuz booster rocket, The New York Times said.
"I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier and am looking forward to the possibility of going into space,” Brin said.
Sergey Brin’s payment will book one of the two vacant seats on board Soyuz in 2011.
Space Adventures has already sent five people in space. The list includes South African businessman Mark Shuttleworth, US businessmen Dennis Tito, Gregory Olsen, Anousheh Ansari, who became first female space tourist, and Charles Simonyi, an ex-executive at Microsoft.
The company has booked the seats to fly to the ISS in October and April of 2009. Each of the clients paid from 20 to 40 million dollars for a ticket.
Tom Jones, a former astronaut and an unpaid advisor to Space Adventures, said that the company would extend the role and privileges of space tourists. For example, they will have more freedom in conducting their own experiments on board Soyuz rockets.
Space Adventures is involved in the development of two commercial spaceports, one in the United Arab Emirates and the other in Singapore. The UAE spaceport is to be located in Ras al-Khaimah, located less than an hour drive from Dubai. In addition to suborbital spaceflights, Spaceport Singapore will operate astronaut training facilities and a public education and interactive visitor center. Spaceport Singapore visitors will be able to experience Zero-Gravity flights, G-force training in a centrifuge, and simulated space walks in a neutral buoyancy tank. However, the company has found it difficult to attract funding and partners for the Singapore project.
On July 21, 2006 the company announced that they would begin offering a spacewalk option to their clients traveling to the ISS. The addition of the spacewalk, which would allow participants to spend up to 1.5 hours outside of the space station, would cost about $15 million and would lengthen the orbital mission approximately six to eight days. The spacewalk would be completed in the Russian designed Orlan space suit. The training for the spacewalk would require an extra month of training on top of the six months already required.
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