One more company has embarked footsteps of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic , offering exciting journey to the moon. Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), an international commercial space transportation company based in the Isle of Man (within the British Isles) , is offering the exclusive flight, which would last four months and fly past the moon at a distance of 1000km, for extra wealthy, since the ticket price will be £100 million per person ($156 million).
Excalibur Almaz announced that the first 500,000-mile round trip in a converted Soviet-era space station could take place as early as 2015 and if that plan succeed, it will be the first manned moon mission since Apollo 17 in 1972. This historic journey is open to anyone who can finance it including government-sponsored researchers, space agency scientists or even billionaires with money to burn.
Art Dula, who founded the company in 2005, told: “This is not space tourism, it is real scientific expedition – they would go further than anybody has gone before in space. We want to have the same kind of tradition that Britain had in the 16th and 17th centuries when its explorers went to the ends of the earth seeking knowledge and information and bringing back wealth. I don’t know how much wealth they will bring back, but the first person to fly it will earn a place in the history books.”
Excalibur Almaz is building a private space program, starting with a transportation system using proven equipment and launch services. The company owns four RRV (Reusable Reentry Vehicle) capsules and two large Salyut-Class Spacecraft. The reusable reentry capsules can carry three passengers to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The two Spacecraft are equivalent to the Russian Mir core or the International Space Station (ISS) Zarya module. The company has developed a plan to dock an RRV to a Salyut-Class Spacecraft in LEO and use the combined spacecraft as a transportation system to the moon, libration points, asteroids and deep space.
The RRVs can be used 15 times and each space station has a service life of 15 years. The station has 90 cubic metres of living space and provides a protected “refuge” where crew members can shelter in the event of a solar radiation storm.
Mr Dula stressed that the moon mission goes far beyond “space tourism” of the kind offered by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. The trip would be a “private expedition” rather than a sightseeing tour. Three crew members for one shuttle will spend a year in training before launching the shuttle from a base in Kazakhstan and docking with a space station, which would then use thrusters to ferry passengers through space.