Like the elusive Loch Ness Monster, a plan to send a cosmonaut and two tourists looping around the moon in a modified Soyuz transport has once again surfaced in the Russian media.
Sputnik News reports that RSC Energia General Director Vladimir Solntsev told Izvestia that officials have a preliminary design for the upgraded Soyuz and are considering eight potential applicants willing to pay $150 million apiece to fill the two open seats, including a Japanese family.
The plan, which is a partnership of RSC Energia and Space Adventures, has been around for many years. There’s discussion about it and media stories and everything seems to be moving forward, and then like Nessie it disappears for years at a time.
They’ve had a preliminary design for quite a while now. The image above showing the modified Soyuz dates back to 2011. I also recall that Space Adventures officials have said they had already sold at least one of the two tickets.
A couple of years ago, Space Adventures CEO recorded a video in which he said he hoped to fly the mission in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire that killed Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. That anniversary will occur on Jan. 27, 2017.
The eight people interested in the flight have been told that it could take place by 2020.