Japanese Space Tourist to Train for Space Station Flight

issinorbit1
VIENNA, Va. (Space Adventures PR) —
Today, Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced that Satoshi Takamatsu will begin training as an International Space Station (ISS) crew member candidate for a flight on a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. After successful completion of the program, Takamatsu will be certified as a ‘fully-trained spaceflight participant cosmonaut’ and will be the first Japanese private astronaut qualified to visit the ISS.

(more…)

Sarah Brightman to Begin Space Training Early Next Year

sarah_brightman
Sarah Brightman

An update on singer Sarah Brightman’s space tourism trip to the International Space Station (ISS) next year:

British famed soprano singer Sarah Brightman would begin pre-flight trainings for her journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as a space tourist early next year, instead of this autumn, Yuri Lonchakov, the head of the Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, said on Wednesday.

“She will begin trainings in the Star City in January of 2015 and therefore we are all waiting for her,” Lonchakov said adding that he believed “her training will be a success.”

Less than three months ago Lonchakov said that the famous singer had already passed a number of medical examination and tests and was ready to begin preparations for the trip to the ISS at the Star City space training facility in the Moscow Region in September or October.

Lonchakov’s earlier statement that Brightman could start her trainings this autumn was also confirmed in June by the president of the US-based company in charge of organizing her trip.

Read the full story.

Roscosmos Not Keen on Space Adventures’ Moon Flight

Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)
Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Roscosmos is not amused by a plan by RSC Energia and Space Adventures to spent two tourists on a trip around the moon in a modified Soyuz spacecraft:

Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, will not be involved in a plan to send two space tourists on a flight around the Moon and was not consulted about the project, the federal space agency said.

The mission, hatched by U.S.-based space tourism firm Space Adventures and a major Russian spacecraft manufacturer, Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, would see two space tourists travel to the Moon aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft by 2017. However, Roscosmos was kept out of the loop on the plan.

The organizers “could have consulted with us before making such loud announcements,” said Denis Lyskov, Roscosmos’s deputy chief in charge of piloted flights, Izvestia reported Monday.

“We are not participating in the moon project, we are not planning to modernize the Soyuz,” Lyskov was quoted as saying.

Despite the government owning a 38-percent stake in Energia, the company has a history of asserting its independence from the space agency, which purchases its hardware from the company for use in the government’s space agenda.

The fate of the flight could hinge on how long Energia remains an independent company. Igor Komarov, who heads up the newly created United Rocket and Space Company (URSC), has said the government plans to obtain a 51 percent share in Energia. The state-owned USRC is consolidating much of the Russian space industry under its control.

It’s not clear when the Russian government will obtain a majority share of Energia. It’s also uncertain whether Energia would continue to honor any commitments it made to Space Adventures prior to such a move.

After Sarah Brightman, Will Sergey Brin Fly to the International Space Station?

Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin could be the next space tourist to journey to the International Space Station.

Space Adventures President Tom Shelley told Reuters that Brin, whose net worth is $30.2 billion, has put down a deposit on a seat aboard a future Soyuz flight to the orbiting laboratory.

“He paid us a deposit and whenever we have a seat available, he has the right of first refusal,” Shelley said.

Shelley said the company could have an open seat in 2017.

Brin and co-founder Larry Page have a deep interest in space. Their company has sponsored the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize for the first private company to land a rover on the surface of the moon. This week, Google announced the purchase of Skybox Imaging, which provides images of the Earth from space. The company also is reportedly developing a satellite network to provide high-speed broadband services on a global basis.

Before Brin flies, British soprano Sarah Brightman, will pay $52 million for a 10-day trip to the space station in September 2015. She will be the ninth person to visit ISS as a tourist since Space Adventures sent Dennis Tito there in 2002.  Brightman plans to sing during her orbital trip.

Brightman is in a race with Lady Gaga to be the first professional singer to perform in space. For more on that story, click here.

 

Lady Gaga vs. Sarah Brightman: Who Will be First (Professional) Musician to Sing in Space?

sarah_brightmanThe battle of singing space divas is on!

In this corner, British soprano Sarah Brightman, who is paying $52 million to fly to the International Space Station in September 2015.

And in the other corner, the always interesting and frequently controversial Lady Gaga, scheduled to blast into space aboard Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo as part of the Zero G Colony music festival in early 2015.

Wait? What? How could Brightman get there first if Gaga is flying earlier?

Good question.

(more…)

Space Companies Update Plans for Doing Space Things

Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)
Space Adventures vehicle for circumlunar flights. (Credit: Space Adventures)

Michael Belfiore has a piece in the MIT Technology Review about a May 1 event at the Explorers Club in New York where 13 commercial space companies showed off their plans. Several key players had updated schedules which anyone paying the slightest bit of attention will know to take with 1.7 metric tons of salt:

  • Virgin Galactic’s head of Astronaut Relations Lauren De Niro Pipher predicted that Richard Branson and his children would fly to space aboard SpaceShipTwo in November or December. Note, this was prior to the announcement of a change in the ship’s engine, which officials insist won’t have a major impact on the schedule.
  • XCOR hopes to fly the Lynx Mark I before the end of the year. The ship is now being assembled in Mojave, Calif.
  • Blue Origin said it would begin test flights of its first full-scale spacecraft within a year.
  • Space Adventures says it has signed up two unidentified customers willing to spend $150 million to fly a modified Soyuz spacecraft around the moon. The flight is set to launch in 2017 or 2018.
  • Penn State Lunar Lion plans to send a coffee-table sized spacecraft to land on the moon in an effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize.
  • Planetary Resources discussed plans to launch its first Arkyd spacecraft from the International Space Station by the end of this year.
  • World View Enterprises said the company would launch a small test vehicle of its high-altitude manned capsule in about a month, which would be right about now.

Virgin Galactic Customers Enjoy Early Taste of Microgravity

Joanne Le Bon in microgravity. (Credit: Steve Boxall)
Joanne Le Bon in microgravity. (Credit: Steve Boxall)

As part of its gathering of future spaceflight participants in Mojave on Sept. 25, Virgin Galactic also scheduled a series of space-related events and activities throughout the week for those coming in from the four corners of the globe. These included an after party at the Endeavour exhibit in Los Angeles, centrifuge training at NASTAR in Pennsylvania, tours of the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and microgravity parabolic rides aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE (above).

A press release from ZERO-G follows after the break.

(more…)

Suborbital Space Tourism Vehicle on Hold with Armadillo’s “Hibernation”

Armadillo Aerospace and Space Adventures had grand plans for a suborbital tourism vehicle that seem quite distant now with John Carmack’s announcement that his rocket building company has run out of money. Here’s a bit of pre-hibernation nostalgia for those who remember those optimistic days. For others who are just joining us, here’s what the present was supposed to look like. More evidence, if anyone needed it, that the future just ain’t what it used to be.

Sarah Brightman’s Flight to ISS Appears to Be Back on — Again

sarah_brightman

Good news, everyone! It looks like soprano Sarah Brightman will be flying to the International Space Station after all. Just like they announced nine months ago.

Ending months of crackling suspense that had millions (or thousands, hundreds, or maybe just scores –hard to say) of people around the world on the edge of their seats, Russian officials have appeared to re-announced what they once again say are firm plans to have the British recording star travel to ISS aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

“The sides will discuss in the near future the implementation of this project, including Sarah Brightman’s preparation for the flight and the program of her activities on board the orbital station,” the Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.

(more…)

Sarah Brightman Going to Space — One Way or the Other

sarah_brightmanAs Russian and American officials consider if and when to send sopranonaut Sarah Brightman into space, the British singer has hedged her bets by buying a less costly ride there.

Keeping all bases covered Miss Brightman, who has an estimated fortune of £30 million, already has a much cheaper ticket, just £125,000, for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic programme, which hopes to begin carrying commercial passengers into space next year. But the singer is said to be frustrated by the lack of any firm date….

(more…)

Private Sector Seeks Profit, Adventure Beyond Earth Orbit

golden_spike_lander
Credit: Golden Spike Company

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With human flights beyond Earth orbit not expected to occur for at least eight years, the private sector is increasingly eying deep space for a series of ambitious robotic and human missions for both adventure and profit.

Nine programs are currently underway that include robotic and human landings of the moon, human flybys of the moon and Mars, the mining of the moon and asteroids, and even a settlement on Mars. Backers of these initiatives include the X Prize Foundation, Google and its executives, and the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito.

(more…)

America’s Rocket Renaissance

rutan_talkBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

During recent public talks, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan has bemoaned the lack of recent rocket development in the United States. After the initial burst of creativity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, decades went by with very few new rockets being developed. He has also pointed to Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipTwo, SpaceX’s Dragon and Stratolaunch Systems air-launch project (which he worked on for 20 years) as the only serious developments in the field at present.

My first thought was: Burt’s wrong. There’s a lot more going on than just that. Including developments just down the flight line in Mojave that he somehow fails to mention. And my second thought was: well, just how wrong is Burt, exactly?

A lot, it turns out.

(more…)

Space Adventures Books First Celebritynaut for Orbital Tourism Trip

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Wednesday’s announcement that international recording superstar Sarah Brightman will be flying to the International Space Station marked at major milestone for the Virginia-based Space Adventures: the company had finally booked a genuine celebritynaut for one of its orbital trips.

It was a far cry from 11 years ago, when a largely unknown former NASA engineer turned investment manager named Dennis Tito climbed aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station.

And the announcement comes at time when the excitement over the prospects of an extremely wealthy person paying an increasingly absurd amount of money to float around in space like any other regular astronaut has largely faded.

(more…)