- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NEW YORK - Space Adventures, the Virginia company that has sent “tourists” to the International Space Station, is planning a new mission: rocketing rich people around the dark side of the moon.

The first mission, dubbed DSE-Alpha (for Deep Sea Explorations), could happen as early as 2008, company Chief Executive Officer Eric Anderson said at a Manhattan press conference.

The first traveler would be only the 28th person in history to orbit the moon — not counting the cosmonaut of the Russian spacecraft that will make the flight — and the first person to orbit the moon in more than 33 years, the Arlington company said. The trip will offer the chance to see the Earth rise from lunar orbit and a view of the far side of the moon, never seen from Earth.

The price tag is every bit as steep: $100 million for each of the two planned passengers, which includes costs such as planning the mission, modifying a modern Soyuz TMA spacecraft for the trip and completing manned and unmanned test flights before the space tourists make their trip.

The Soyuz has 10 cubic meters of crew space, about the size of a large sport utility vehicle.

Space Adventures is offering two options for its moon trips. One includes a 5-day lunar flight and up to 21 days at the International Space Station; the other is a nine-day mission with three days of free flight in low-Earth orbit and the rest flying around the moon.

The company has a long-term partnership with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation. Through that partnership, Space Adventures has sent American businessman Dennis Tito and African Mark Shuttleworth on a Soyuz for stays on the International Space Station.

It’s next mission is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Scientist Gregory Olsen, co-founder of a Princeton, N.J., company called Sensors Unlimited that makes high-tech infrared cameras, has been training for his mission at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow since 2004. Mr. Olsen, who was a surprise guest at the press conference, hopes to conduct experiments with one of his cameras while on the space station.

Also attending the press conference were Vyalheslav Davidenko, press secretary of the Russian space agency, and Nikolai Sevastyanov, president of rocket maker Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.

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