Space Adventures signs Soyuz flight contract with spacewalk option

WASHINGTON – Space tourism company Space Adventures has signed a contract with RSC Energia for a flight from Soyuz to the International Space Station that will include the opportunity for a client to take a spacewalk.

Under the contract announced on June 25, a Soyuz spacecraft will fly a “short-lived” mission, which Space Adventures described in a 14-day statement, to the ISS with two spaceflight participants and a professional cosmonaut to board. The contract is similar to an agreement announced in February 2019 for a Soyuz 2021 flight to the station, also with two spaceflight participants and a professional cosmonaut on board.

However, the new contract would include the opportunity for one of the space flight participants to walk in space. According to a statement from Roscosmos, that person, along with a Russian cosmonaut, would perform a spacewalk from the Russian segment of the station.

“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 company statement. “We applaud our colleagues at Energia for working with us to create amazing new adventures in space.”

The idea of ​​a spacewalk performed by a private astronaut has emerged for years as a companion to an orbital space tourism flight. Space Adventures has promoted spacewalks from the ISS on its website for several years as a unique experience. Every person who has ever done a spacewalk to date has been a professional astronaut.

However, a spacewalk would require customers to undergo additional training in addition to standard space flight training such as Russia’s Star City facility. It is also likely to have a significant additional cost. “The price of the spacewalk depends on the timing of your mission and other factors,” says the Space Adventures website, without giving a specific price.

The timing of the mission is unclear. The Roscosmos statement said the mission will launch in 2023. However, Stacey Tearne, a spokesperson for Space Adventures, said the mission will take place “once we have identified and hired clients,” and did not confirm the date. 2023 of the Roscosmos declaration.

Tearne said this mission is separate from the contract announced last year for a Soyuz mission in late 2021, which does not include a spacewalk opportunity. The company has not provided an update on the progress that has been made in registering customers for that flight.

The company is known for intermediating flights for several people on Soyuz missions to the ISS from almost 20 years ago. Space Adventures arranged seven-person flights on eight trips to the ISS (one customer, Charles Simonyi, flew twice) using available seats on Soyuz flights from 2001 to 2009. However, those flights ended due to lack of seats. Soyuz when that spacecraft became the exclusive means of accessing the station.

Space Adventures had another client for an ISS flight, singer Sarah Brightman, who was due to fly to the station when a seat became available as part of a “one-year” mission at the station in 2015. Brightman, however, withdrew several months before the mission, citing “personal family reasons”. A cosmonaut from Kazakhstan flew in his place.

In February Space Adventures announced a contract with SpaceX for a dedicated Crew Dragon flight. That mission, scheduled to launch between late 2021 and mid-2022, will take four spaceflight participants on a five-day flight that would orbit Earth at more than twice the altitude of the ISS.