Space is the next frontier our species will explore in one way or another. Doing so is much easier said than done, though, as getting into outer space is not something most consumers currently expect to do. Russian space company Energie plans to change all that by offering “comfortable” flights to the International Space Station. These flights will accommodate up to six people, which may open up a rather interesting market moving forward.
Another Company Aims to Commercialize Spaceflight
Although the venture by Energia isn’t on the same level as what Elon Musk or Richard Branson have planned, it does portend an interesting future. Having up to six “tourists” fly up to the ISS and perform an outside spacewalk is certainly something a lot of wealthier individuals will gladly pay good money for. Whether or not the rest of the world feels the same is a different matter altogether.
This would be the first time that paying tourists could travel to the International Space Station. Going out on a spacewalk is something most astronauts don’t take lightly, even with their special training. It is likely any tourists looking to explore this opportunity will need some training as well, although that has not been officially confirmed by Energia. This bold new venture will certainly get a lot of attention, even though it may not necessarily result in any actual interest in the project.
Considering that a ticket would cost around US$100 million, there won’t be many people who have the money to pay for such a venture right now. Going into space is not cheap, as the costs of launching a rocket and preparing accommodations for up to six additional people simply costs a lot of money. Market analysts have concluded that wealthy people are ready to pay for such a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but only time will tell whether their assessment is correct.
Energia has built up a solid reputation in the space industry. The company was a part of launching the first man into space, as Yuri Gagarin could not have succeeded without this company’s help. As of right now, the firm is building a new module known as NEM-2. It seems this new project will solely focus on transporting tourists to the ISS. Assuming there is sufficient demand for this service, Energia may be on to something which no other companies have previously explored.
With the NEM-2, four to six people will be able to travel to the ISS. No one should expect anything overly luxurious, even though tourists will have their own comfortable cabins. There will be more than one toilet, and even internet access for tourists to livestream the whole thing on social media. If everything goes according to plan, the NEM-2 module will be ready for commercial use by 2019. No further timeline has been announced at this time.
It is also worth noting that Energia is not going alone. It has the support of Boeing, a company which made its space-related intentions clear some time ago. How all of this will play out in the long run has yet to be determined at this point. There is plenty of reason to assume this trial will be somewhat successful. The bigger question is whether or not modules like the NEM-2 can be built in such a manner that they pose no risk to the people riding the vehicle on their way to and from the ISS.