Roscosmos: No Immediate Plans to Send Tourists to ISS

Dennis Tito

A top Russian space official has warned not to expect a resumption of space tourist flights to the International Space Station any time soon.

Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation has no plans to send space tourists to the country’s segment of the International Space Station (ISS) before 2020, Roscosmos deputy director general for international cooperation told Sputnik in an interview.

“As for sending tourists to the Russian segment of the ISS, Roscosmos has no plans to implement such flights before 2020 because of the absence of the relevant capabilities,” Sergey Savelyev said.

He added that space tourism was not limited by ISS-related projects and Russia’s corporation was interested in attracting tourists.

Seven space tourists made eight visits to ISS during the 2000’s, beginning with Dennis Tito in 2001 and ending with Guy Laliberte in 2009. The most recent attempt to send a tourist to the station fell through when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out of a planned trip in 2015.

  • JamesG

    Yeah… or more likely they can’t find anyone willing to be seen giving the big bad Russians a lot of money. As their agents/image consultants tell them, “Its bad optics.”

  • Jeff2Space

    That and Russia’s cost for a seat on Soyuz is quite high. Anyone who wants to fly into space is likely waiting to see how low companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin can get their costs.

  • JamesG

    People who can afford to buy a seat to the ISS don’t worry about how much it costs.

  • Jeff2Space

    The reported cost of the previous “tourist” trips to ISS on Soyuz were in the $20 million to $40 million range. In the near future, I don’t foresee a US LEO space station tourist service for much less than that price, but Bigelow Aerospace might yet make a go of it.

    From my high school economics class, it looks like a classic supply and demand problem. At that high cost, demand is low. But if someone could bring those costs down by an order of magnitude (into the low single digit millions of dollar range), the demand might go up a bit. Drop it by yet another order of magnitude and it starts to become just within the reach of the upper middle class.

    Price drops by two orders of magnitude would require full reusability of both the launch vehicle and the capsule. We’re nowhere near that yet.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    Still, it might be my European optics and some people may really prefer the “nutech allure” but I would value my visit on *the* International Space Station (or e.g. Mir) more than a stay in a cheaper “space hotel” for tourists, even when there are some brought NASA/ESA/JAXA/employees.

    Ofc, the newer hotel might be more comfortable in future, and the previous 8 tourist stays diluted the WOW effect – but again, ISS is ISS, and being there is worth some premium comparing to later, more mass-market hotels.

    Russians know it. Unfortunately for them and the space tourism, people obviously are not willing to take that much risk, effort and costs to gain this life achievement. If this space tourism is to attract dozens of payers, it needs to be cheaper by this mentioned order of magnitude, and it needs to be less time consuming in terms of preparation (which is actually synergic).

    Tl;dr: sustainable (even if still elite) space tourism remains a few steps ahead – and when the demand makes the space travel significantly easier, it will be saturated firstly by the agencies.

  • JamesG

    High sckewl economics is not reality. Many more factors involved than simply the price point at X demand and Y supply.

    The people with the disposable wealth to consider this kind of thing don’t worry about such mundane things as the price. They either just want to for… whatever reason. Because they had dreams of being an astronaut as a kid before doing something else that made them wealthy. Or they do it because someone talked them into it and they think that it will “one up” their social status with their peers, which is the only important thing when you have nothing else to worry about.

    Even an order of magnitude drop in price isn’t going to reduce the price where anyone in the “upper middle class” is going to be able to afford it, barring the odd spinster at the upper end of the bracket who’s going to spend all their worldly worth on one wild ride. Most people who technically can afford it, arn’t going to because… it’s dangerous and its an inefficient use of their wealth when there are many, many, alternatives. The exceptions are the above mentioned spinsters.

    The cold splash in the face fact is that the market for “space tourism” is vanishingly small and will remain small regardless of price.

  • Jeff2Space

    You’re welcome to your opinion.

    Danger won’t stop people. The high price does. Climbing Mt. Everest absolutely is dangerous and does kill several people each year. Yet, it has become so popular in recent years that there are quite often “traffic jams” on the paths near the summit. In other words, the demand for this sometimes fatal experience exceeds the supply.