Roscosmos says it will send two tourists to the space station, and one will do a spacewalk

After taking a decade-long break from space tourism, the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos plans to send two paying tourists to the International Space Station in 2023 on a short flight from the country’s Soyuz spacecraft. While there, one of the tourists will go on a space walk with an experienced Russian cosmonaut, the first for any private citizen visiting the ISS.

To fly tourists, Roscosmos is working with the US company Space Adventures, which organizes space flights for wealthy clients. The company has worked with Roscosmos before to send seven private citizens to the International Space Station on eight separate Soyuz trips. The last tourist, Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, flew to the ISS in September 2009.

After that, Roscosmos primarily paused his space tourism efforts to help bring NASA astronauts to and from the space station. When the NASA space shuttle retired in 2011, Soyuz became the only means of bringing people to the ISS, so priority was given to NASA astronauts and international partners participating in the program. the International Space Station. NASA paid approximately $ 80 million per seat to get passengers on the Soyuz.

But now, things are changing. SpaceX recently launched two NASA astronauts to the ISS in the company’s new Crew Dragon capsule, and plans to make regular passenger flights in the vehicle in the future. Meanwhile, Boeing is also developing a new crew capsule called the CST-100 Starliner that will eventually take NASA astronauts to and from the ISS. That means NASA is no longer fully dependent on Russia’s Soyuz rocket, and as a result, the agency has purchased fewer and fewer seats in the vehicle.

Now it seems that Roscosmos’ space tourism efforts are picking up again. Earlier last year, Roscosmos said it was working with Space Adventures to bring two tourists to the space station in 2021. Today’s announcement is separate from that agreement.

Of the handful of tourists who have gone into space, none have ever walked before. Spacewalking is a rather laborious process that requires extensive field training. There are no details on how much a trip like this will cost. It will be interesting to see what kind of training this person has to do to prepare, and what they will do when they are in space. Space Adventures says that “accepted and insured candidates will be required to complete specialized training and additional simulations” to prepare.

“A private citizen completing a spacewalk would be another great step forward in private space flight,” said Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, in a statement. “We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate two decades of orbital space tourism with our Russian partners, opening another first experience.”

Update June 25, 1:50 PM ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from Space Adventures.