The Isle Of Man-based commercial aerospace company Excalibur Almaz has said it is now ready to sell tickets for a 500,000-mile round trip, six month journey to the Moon's orbit and back. Tickets for the once-in-a-lifetime journey are expected to sell for as much as $100 million, though this has yet to be confirmed, and only those in peak physical condition will be accepted to board.
The space fleet Excalibur Almaz has acquired for an undisclosed sum includes two Soviet 'Salyut'-class, 29-ton space station “habitation modules” that each hold a capacity of 95 cubic meters and will be used to take passengers to and from the moon with the aid of thrusters attached to the stations, essentially converting them into long-distance space ferries. Since the Salyut stations will stay in orbit, a further four used Soviet re-useable re-entry vehicles (RRVs) have been entirely gutted and refurbished with modern avionics and will shuttle passengers three at a time to the space station atop Soyux-FG rockets and furthermore be used to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere for a safe journey back home. Each RRV can be used a total of 15 times, and the space station coincidentally has a lifespan of around 15 years.
Although the FAA has predicted that private space travel will become a billion-dollar industry within the coming years, Excalibur Almaz has more on its mind than space tourism for the über rich. The company is expected to build funds through lending a helping hand to companies for research and scientific space missions, much like Space X and Bigelow are with their 'inflatable space stations' partnership. Excalibur Almaz is hoping to fill enough seats to green-light at least 30 missions to the moon between 2015 and 2025. Test flights are expected to begin in 2015.