Trained astronauts are currently the only people who have gone out for spacewalks at the International Space Station but an official from Russia's space industry has revealed that this could change in the near future.
Affluent People Could Visit ISS As Early As 2019
Vladimir Solntsev, the head of space company Energia, said that Russia plans to offer deep-pocketed individuals the chance to fly up to the orbiting laboratory and experience a spacewalk. Energia is behind the launch of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961.
Russia currently explores the idea of sending between five and six paying tourists to the ISS for up to 10 days.
"We are discussing the possibility of sending tourists on spacewalks," Solntsev said.
Solntsev said that market analysts have confirmed that affluent people are ready to pay money for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The cost of a trip to the space station would be around $100 million but the first tourist would possibly pay less. The trip will include a spacewalk and opportunity to make a film or a video clip in space. The trip will last up to 10 days.
Energia is currently working on a new module called NEM-2 to transport tourists to the ISS. NEM-2 will be fitted with comfortable cabins and two toilets. It will also have internet access that passengers can use to share their experience in space on social media. The module, whose name still needs to be confirmed, is expected to launch in 2019.
Russia's plan to send tourists to spacewalk at the ISS comes amid preparations by American spacefaring companies Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic to make the orbiting laboratory a tourist destination.
World's First Space Tourist
While the era of commercial space holiday has not yet come, seven millionaires have already visited the space station in the past. The world's first space tourist was American Dennis Tito.
The Californian financier joined the Soyuz TM-32 mission on April 28, 2001, and spent nearly eight days in space. The trip reportedly cost him $20 million but he said that the experience gave him value for the money.
"It was paradise, I just came back from paradise," he said. "I was worried that I might not feel good in space. I turned out to feel the best I've felt in my entire life."
How did he spend his week in orbit? Tito caught up on his sleep, photographed view from his window, and relaxed by listening to opera CDs.