Tag Archives: Space Adventures

Lawsuit reveals two customers for Soyuz circumlunar tourist flight

Capitalism in space: A lawsuit against Space Adventures, the company that has previously organized tourist trips to ISS using Russian rockets, has finally revealed the names of the two individuals who had purchased tickets for a circumlunar flight around the Moon using a modified Soyuz capsule.

The details are included in a lawsuit now winding its way through U.S. District Court in Virginia. Harald McPike, a wealth Austrian investor and adventurer who resides in the Bahamas, has sued Space Adventures, its chairman and CEO Eric Anderson, and its president Thomas Shelley seeking to recover the $7 million down payment he put down on the flight in March 2013.

The other lunar tourist? The lawsuit says Space Adventures told McPike that it was Anousheh Ansari, who flew to the International Space Station (ISS) as a tourist in 2006 on a Soyuz in a deal the company brokered with the Russians. Ansari’s family also sponsored the $10 million Ansari X Prize won by Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne in 2004.

The dispute centers on McPike’s realization, after paying $7 million of the $30 million down payment, that Space Adventures probably could not deliver on its promises, mostly because of a Russian reluctance to sent tourists on such a mission. He wants his money back, and Space Adventures doesn’t want to return it.

While several modified Soyuz capsules, called Zond, were sent around the Moon during the 1960s, that was a very long time ago. Configuring the modern Soyuz for such a manned mission would require a lot of work, and I suspect the Russians didn’t want to do it without money up front. Moreover, I’m not even sure that the $300 million from the two tourists would have been sufficient.

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Russian government: Nyet to tourists.

Turf war in Russia: The Russian space agency has disavowed any plans to send two tourists around the Moon in a Soyuz capsule.

Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, will not be involved in a plan to send two space tourists on a flight around the Moon and was not consulted about the project, the federal space agency said.

The mission, hatched by U.S.-based space tourism firm Space Adventures and a major Russian spacecraft manufacturer, Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, would see two space tourists travel to the Moon aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft by 2017. However, Roscosmos was kept out of the loop on the plan.

The organizers “could have consulted with us before making such loud announcements,” said Denis Lyskov, Roscosmos’s deputy chief in charge of piloted flights, Izvestia reported Monday. “We are not participating in the moon project, we are not planning to modernize the Soyuz,” Lyskov was quoted as saying.

Considering the recent power play by the Russian government to grab back full control over Russia’s aerospace industry, this disavowal does not bode well for the private effort. If the government opposes the flight, it will be very difficult for Energia to go forward.

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Getting the Russian Soyuz capsule prepped to take two tourists around the Moon.

More capitalism: Getting the Russian Soyuz capsule prepped to take two tourists around the Moon.

The key detail in this story is not so much that they are beginning to figure out the engineering upgrades necessary to fling a Soyuz capsule around the Moon but that Space Adventures has apparantly finally gotten two passengers who have put down deposits for the lunar flight. For years they have said they had one ticket holder, suspected to be James Cameron, but without a second passenger the flight could not go forward. It now appears that they have gotten a deposit from that second person.

Posted on the road in New Mexico.

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On Monday the Russians announced that they plan to fly two tourists around the Moon by 2017.

The competition heats up: On Monday the Russians announced that they plan to fly two tourists around the Moon by 2017.

This is in conjunction with Space Adventures and the previous tourist flights that have gone to ISS. They say they have two customers willing to pay the $150 million ticket price, but they have also been saying this for years. I am not sure I believe them anymore.

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Space Adventures and tourists to the Moon

Space Adventures and tourists to the Moon.

After consultation with Rocket Space Corporation Energia, modifications to the Soyuz TMA configuration have been agreed upon. The most important of which is the addition of a second habitation module to the Soyuz TMA lunar complex. The additional module would launch with the Block DM propulsion module and rendezvous with the Soyuz spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.

“Space Adventures will once again grace the pages of aerospace history, when the first private circumlunar mission launches. We have sold one of the two seats for this flight and anticipate that the launch will occur in 2015,” said Richard Garriott, Vice-Chairman of Space Adventures. “Having flown on the Soyuz, I can attest to how comfortable the spacecraft is, but the addition of the second habitation module will only make the flight that more enjoyable.”

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