Capitalism in space: Early today Russia successfully used its Soyuz-2 rocket and Soyuz capsule to launch a movie crew to ISS to begin a twelve day visit where they will film scenes for a science fiction movie.
An actress Yulia Peresild and a movie director Klim Shipenko arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft on Oct. 5, 2021, for a 12-day visit to shoot scenes of a sci-fi drama. They were accompanied by a professional cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who had to switch to manual control during the final approach to the station due to a failure of the Kurs automated rendezvous system aboard Soyuz. Shkaplerov will remain aboard the station for nearly six months.
This is the second in a steady string of passenger commercial spaceflights that have been purchased by various people from either Roscosmos in Russia or SpaceX in the U.S. We shall see two more such flights in December, and another early in ’22, with additional flights to be scheduled beyond that. The full list, at this time:
- September 15, 2021: SpaceX’s Dragon capsule flew four private citizens on a three day orbital flight
- October 2021: The Russians launch two passengers to ISS for 12 days to shoot a movie
- December 2021: The Russians will fly billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant to ISS for 12 days
- cDecember 2021: Space Adventures, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four in orbit for five days
- January/February 2022: Axiom, using a Dragon capsule, will fly four tourists to ISS
- 2022-2024: Three more Axiom tourist flights on Dragon to ISS
- 2024: Axiom begins launching its own modules to ISS, starting construction of its own private space station
- c2024: SpaceX’s Starship takes Yusaku Maezawa and several others on a journey around the Moon.
Expect this list to grow. There appears to be plenty of demand for such commercial manned spaceflights, and with more flights and more competition (once Boeing’s Starliner enters the game) the cost will certainly drop.
The leaders in the 2021 launch race:
4 Northrop Grumman
With this launch Russia has now exceeded the number of launches it completed last year. If they complete all their presently scheduled launches for ’21, Roscosmos will have its best year since 2015.
The U.S still leads China 35 to 34 in the national rankings.
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