British space company Excalibur Almaz has announced its readiness to send tourists on a much-coveted trip to the Moon as early as in 2015.
The first 500,000-mile round trip in a converted Soviet-era spacecraft would cost potential clients around 100 million British pounds (over $150 mln).
“We're ready to sell the tickets,” Art Dula, founder and chief executive of the Isle of Man-based company, told a space tourism meeting in London on Tuesday.
Excalibur Almaz's mission is to become the world leader in providing reliable, affordable and routine access to space for exploration, experimentation and tourism for customers around the world.
For this purpose, the firm has bought and modified four RRV (Reusable Reentry Vehicle) capsules and two large Salyut-Class Spacecraft.
Each RRV can carry three passengers and could be used 15 times, while each spacecraft has a service life of 15 years.
The Salyut-Class Spacecraft used by Excalibur Almaz are part of the first space station program undertaken by the Soviet Union, which consisted of a series of nine space stations launched over a period of 11 years from 1971 to 1982.
Experience gained from the Salyut stations went on to pave the way for multi-modular space stations such as Mir and the International Space Station (ISS).
Excalibur Almaz has developed a plan to dock an RRV to a Salyut-Class Spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit and use the combined spacecraft as a transportation system to the Moon and beyond.
According to Dula, it would be a long-duration voyage (up to six months), which would require a high level of physical and mental fitness. All necessary training is provided in the voyage package.
In addition to expeditions to the Moon, Dula envisages unmanned research missions, transportation of people and cargo, and even asteroid mining, serving governments, companies and members of the public.