Private Orbital Spaceflight!

On account of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) experiencing cash shortages through the 1990’s, they decided to accept private space tourists to fly in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). A total of 7 people flew 8 successful private spaceflights, of between 8 and 15 days in length, with each costing between $20 - $40 million USD.


Quick Facts About Russia’s Orbital Space Tourists!

  • Towards the end of the 1990’s the Russian’s looked to private space travel as a potential source of much-needed cash to subsidize the Mir Space Station’s operational costs. After all, wealthy clients with long-held dreams of space travel would almost pay anything for the chance to visit space! However, before the first potential space tourist could make their journey, Roscosmos decided to de-orbit Mir so the flight was transfer to the still under construction - International Space Station (ISS).
  •  A deal was arranged through Space Adventures, a US-based space tourism company, and despite NASA’s objections the wealthy American businessman Dennis Tito departed for the ISS on the 28th April 2001 - becoming the first paying space tourist!
  • Space Adventures would arrange a further 7 private spaceflight to the ISS over the next 8 years, with Charles Simonyi even making two trips! It is estimated that each private astronaut paid between 20 and 40 million US dollars for their 8 to 15 days in space orbiting the Earth with the space station crews.
  • Roscosmos halted flights in 2010 due to the impending retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet and the expansion of the on-orbit ISS crew leaving no available seats for private tourists. However the British singer, Sarah Brightman, was expected to make the next trip in 2015 for a reported $52 million, but later withdrew.
  • There are no further Russian orbital tourist flights planned and before companies such as Virgin Galactic, Blue Origins or SpaceX's (lunar mission) launch their customers to space, these 8 orbital spaceflights will remain the only private spaceflights.
Expedition 48 Launch
Dennis Tito
Mark Shuttleworth (Image Credit: NASA)
Gregory Olsen
Anousheh Ansari
Richard Garriott (Image Credit: NASA)
Charles Simonyi
Guy Laliberte (Image Credit: NASA)
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