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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Russian lunar program could become a tourist

The Russian space program relies on lunar tourism. Similar plans are hatching and private companies from other countries. But the point is not that Russia can launch tourists to the moon, and that the entire lunar program, Russia may purchase a commercial nature that will be of our space useful in solving ambitious tasks. For example, the conquest of Mars.

Exactly ten years ago on the ship “Union TMA-9” in the space (more precisely, on the ISS) headed the world’s first space tourist and the first Iranian astronaut the Anush Ansari. And 45 years before this came the novel by British science fiction writer Arthur Clarke’s “moon dust”, the plot of which revolves around excursions to the satellite. At the time when this book was published, mankind has only learned to fly in earth orbit and the events described in the “Lunar dust”, seemed far in the future. However, already in 1960-e years, even before the successful completion of the lunar program “Apollo”, there was talk about building a hotel on the moon by the company, “Hilton”. The lack of development in space technology and insufficient involvement of the private sector in space activities at that time were not allowed to translate this idea into practice.

“That the Russian space program was forced to rely on space tourism as one of ways of their survival there is nothing for her shameful”

In 2000-ies the situation has changed. The interest of the private sector to the exploration and development of space, as well as the prevalence and availability of space technology had again made the moon one of the most desired objects for the application of forces and means of businessmen. So in our days, plans to send tourists if not on the moon, then at least to the moon don’t look more fantastic than space flights in the early 1960-ies.

The Russian idea

The first to translate the talk about lunar tourism into practice beginning Russian company RSC Energia. In 2005, she offered wishing to stay a week on the ISS, and then to fly around the moon and watch it from a distance of 100-200 kilometers. According to the Nikolai Sevastyanov, at that time held the post of President and General Director of “Energy,” flight travel “Union” with a passenger and two astronauts had to cost about one hundred million dollars plus or minus 10%. Sevastyanov also argued that almost all necessary for flight components already there. It is manned Soyuz spacecraft and boosters for the delivery of the tourist to the ISS and flyby of the moon, which (especially important for “traders”) have the assets of hundreds of successful launches. The opinion Sevastyanov totally agree, one of the tourists flying on the ISS, Richard Garriott. “I think that those who say that the United States succeeded in ensuring the safety of space flights, are just wrong,” he said. – The “Soyuz 100 times better safety record than the Shuttle.

According to experts of “Energy”, the launch of the tourist to the moon could take place after three or four years after the beginning of financing of the project. But, alas, care Sevastyanov from the post of head of RSC “Energia” (largely, incidentally, due to the fact that his moon is not only a tourist – and the designs do not fit into the approved space program of Russia) led to the temporary oblivion of plans to send tourists to the moon.

In 2007, the “baton” was picked up by the American company Space Adventures, a well-known fact that, to date, has organized 8 flights of space tourists to the ISS aboard the Russian “Unions” (only tourists were 7, but one flew twice). Apparently, they talked about the project, already dubbed “Energy” for Space Adventures offered to send tourists around the moon on Soyuz for the same price. The company had planned to haul to the moon as soon as two tourists, to gain for the flight is $ 200 million (the third member of the crew must be a professional astronaut).

Golden spike

Around the same time in 2007-2008 – in the United States was organized by the company Golden Spike, which translates as “Golden spike”. This name was chosen not accidentally, because it was called the last spike hammered in 1869 in the tie of the first transcontinental railroad that connected the East and West coasts of the United States. The analogy is clear – the company Golden Spike marks the successful completion of the attempts of humanity to “pave” the way to the moon after the Apollo program.

The most powerful launch vehicles in history kosmonavtiki 2012 Golden Spike announced plans to begin tourist flights to the moon in around 2020. The ticket price is rather big – about 750 million dollars per person, which is not surprising. We are talking not just about flying to the moon, and landing on its surface, that is actually the repetition of the program “Apollo”. In one trip, the company intends to send, again, two tourists, helping out so 1.5 billion dollars in one visit to the moon. About solidity of the company and the seriousness of its intentions, says the composition of its leadership. Golden Spike was founded by Alan stern, who served as associate administrator of NASA for science in 2007-2008, and Gerry Griffin, who worked as the Director of the Space center of a name of Johnson, and the Board of Directors includes a number of personalities known all over America, including the former speaker of the house newt Gingrich, former Governor of new Mexico bill Richardson and former head of the program “Space Shuttle” Ouen Hale.

The development of technology for missions to the moon, Golden Spike plans to spend 7.8 billion dollars. Curiously, while it intends to adopt the model of the Russian space industry 1980 – 1990-ies, consisting in maximizing the use of existing space-rocket techniques for deciding on new challenges. We are talking about programs “Mir”, “Shuttle-Mir and ISS that were implemented using the hardware which was developed in the USSR in the 1960-e and 1970-e years. Thus, the only element that will have to develop from scratch, is a lunar landing module. The solution of this problem will be occupied by Northrop Grumman, which Golden Spike signed the contract in 2013.

The company expects its main customers are countries interested in lunar research, or wishing to deliver their representatives to the moon for reasons of prestige. However, provided that these States will be the political “face-control”. For example, the company does not sell a “ticket” to the moon, the representatives of China and those countries whose access to American high technology prohibited by the relevant law of the United States out of fear that they can use these technologies to develop new types of weapons.

Government support

It is crucial that the plans of Golden Spike has been fully endorsed by NASA. “This move from the private sector is further evidence of the timeliness and wisdom of the overall space policy of the Obama administration – said in an official statement of the Agency. – The purpose of this policy is to create an environment where commercial space companies can “grows up” on the basis of past achievements of NASA so that the Agency could focus its efforts on a bold new goals is to send people to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.”

Behind Golden Spike emerged, a British company, Excalibur Almaz. Even have not heard previously about this organization, but familiar in General terms with the Soviet and Russian space program in the same name of the company guess that it somehow connected with Russia. And do not be mistaken, for Excalibur Almaz intends to use for missions to the moon Soviet equipment. To this end, it has bought from Russia two unused type station Almaz/Salyut and four triple ship type TKS (Transport supply ship”), several copies of which were tested in an unmanned mode. As carriers for launch into space “Fireworks” and TKS intend to use Protons. The cost of the flight on the route Earth – Moon – Earth plus “whirl” around Selena make a tourist not more than $ 150 million. The company intended to equip “Diamonds” and TKS modern electronics and equipment. Work was scheduled to be held on the Isle of man in the Irish sea, where is located the headquarters of the company.

“Eight people have expressed a desire to travel to the moon aboard the modernized spacecraft series “the Union”. Among them Director James Cameron and some family from Japan”

Excalibur Almaz also had the support of the American government, at least at a certain point in their activities. In 2012 she successfully completed the second phase of a partnership with NASA to develop manned vehicles on a commercial basis.

The us entrepreneur Art Dula, founder and CEO, Excalibur Almaz planned by 2025 to send to the moon at least 30 people , however, to say how far this company has progressed in implementing its plans, it is difficult, because against some members of its leadership, in particular against duly, have already filed several lawsuits on charges of fraud. One of the TCS was sold at auction in Belgium in 2014, and one of the two stations of the “Diamond” was sent to the Isle of man, together with the TKS, but it is possible that this is not the final destination.

In 2014 the company Space Adventures spoke again about the possibility of organizing the lunar excursions using “Unions” with the approach to the surface of the moon on distance to 100 kilometers. And hoped to begin such flights in 2018. Also considered the variant of the organization of tourist flights to the moon on Soyuz American company Constellation Services International. It is not excluded that the organization of lunar tourism will begin and private space company SpaceX and Blue Origin, especially as the two are working on creating a media heavy class suitable for expeditions to the moon and on the moon. The first was soon to experience a “Falcon Heavy”, and the other said a few days ago about the intention to create media that is commensurate in size and capacity with the famous lunar “Saturn-5”.

Saving space industry

The leaders of the Russian space industry has repeatedly voiced intentions to actually repeat the us Apollo program by sending Russian cosmonauts to the moon between 2025 and 2035 years. Largely with this end, began to build the new cosmodrome Vostochny and created the Federation.” It was also announced about the beginning of works on creation of the new vehicle a “Breakthrough” to provide a permanent transport connection between the earth and low-lunar orbits. More recently, the Russian space Agency has unveiled plans to build a super-heavy carrier with the lunar “eye”.

However, intentions to reach the moon with humans was not inscribed in any official document, containing a summary of the space strategy of Russia. Moreover, it has been repeatedly urazovskaya Russian space budget may be subjected to a further sekvestirovanii that calls into question not only the creation of new techniques for solving problems beyond low earth orbit, but also to preserve the current level of Russian participation in the ISS program. A natural question arises: at that time I hope the leaders of the Russian space industry, putting on her “stocks” fundamentally new ships and carriers?

The head of RSC Energia Vladimir Solntsev indirectly hinted that may be the basis for such hopes, saying that the PKK more closely examining the market for space tourism in the future may face the decline in demand for spacecraft in its traditional directions. “Energy” annually produces four Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS, but in the coming years, American companies promise to provide for missions to the station of the new models of space ships that will become competitors “Alliances”. “We are already taking steps to the production of Soyuz spacecraft did not decrease significantly: we have a continuous measured decades of experience in the creation, production and operation of manned spacecraft, and make a bet on the reliability of our products,” said Solntsev. – One scenario – a space tourism program for the flyby of the moon.”

“Energy” plans at the first stage of lunar tourism to use proven “Unions”, especially for their flights to the natural satellite of the Earth requires little to no modification. They were originally created for the Soviet moon program and “Probe” made in 1968-1970 four successful flight to the moon and back. However, according to the head of Russian representation Space Adventures Sergey Kostenko, “used today “Unions” for the moon is not adapted, and they need to thoroughly redo.” “Union” will change to radiation protection, to improve the system of landing and dispersal,” he said.

However, according to Solntsev, the lunar tourist “Unions” do not need to install any special radiation protection. “To date, additional engineering solutions to address the threat of radiation hazard have not provided. Overcoming the radiation belts is fast enough, there is a danger during long-term operation of the spacecraft, and this entire flight (to the lunar orbit – VIEW) occurs within only 6-7 days,” said Solntsev. According to him, eight people have expressed a desire to travel to the moon aboard the modernized spacecraft series “the Union”. Among them Director James Cameron (by the way, are trained in Zemzem town in the early 2000-ies) and family from Japan. The cost of the “ticket” per person – $ 120 million.

But “Unions” is the day yesterday. What’s next? One of the main founders of the “Federation” and General designer of RSC “Energia” Nicholas bryuhanov said the newspaper VIEW that tourism “does not refer to major areas of application of the new ship.” But it is possible that this region will become one of the main, at least in the foreseeable future. It is quite possible, especially given the fact that the maximum duration of Autonomous flight with the crew of the number 4 person will be the “Federation” of 14 days (this time is more than enough for a flight on the route Earth-Moon-Earth), and piloted the ship is one professional astronaut. It is possible that under the same travel “harness” created “Leap”, because one of the scenarios of tourist flight to the moon involves the arrival of tourists to the ISS, carrying out there some time, the flight from the ISS to the moon, then back to the ISS and then return to Earth.

That the Russian space program was forced to rely on space tourism as one of ways of their survival there is nothing for her to be ashamed of. If anyone should feel embarrassed, it is those who translate one of the major high-tech and prestigious industries of Russia on starvation rations. Moreover, as evidenced by the modern experience of the world of space, many Western companies, including Space Adventures, Excalibur Almaz and Golden Spike intend to do lunar tourism, using either technology, or the experience of Soviet-Russian space industry, which is an indirect confirmation of technical readiness of Russian cosmonautics to the organization and implementation of space tourism beyond the borders of earth space.

In a situation when the domestic space industry is forced to grasp at a life preserver that says “lunar tourism”, there are two advantages. The first is that an intensive search for commercial clients-tourists to provide at least a partial extrabudgetary funding lunar directions the Russian manned space flight will free up Federal funds for the achievement of truly innovative goals beyond the lunar orbit, such as, for example, a flight to Mars and on Mars.

The second is in the opening of the true value of the desire to the moon. If crossing the Atlantic to reach the shores of the West Indies could be called ambitious project at the time of Columbus, in the XX century, when everyone could make it on Board the “Normandy” and other ocean liners, in such a journey was nothing new or ambitious. The exploration of the moon and earth orbit must satisfy the ambitions of private business, but did not state that considers itself a great space power.


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