Photo: Excalibur Media Images
When Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic announced it would offer trips into space 60 miles above Earth, there was quite a buzz. That opportunity looks like a drive to the grocery store now.Excalibur Almaz, a private spaceflight company based in the small British Isle of Man, recently announced its plan to offer a trip 234,000 miles into the great unknown, Sky News reports, taking passengers from a temporary space station to a destination past the moon. It will be the furthest a human has ever been from Earth.
Not to be confused with “space tourism”, the experience will include intensive training, effectively transforming everyday (extreme wealthy) civilians into astronauts.
There are a few catches though. Besides the £100 million price tag ($157 million), there will not be any formally trained astronauts on the trip to provide assistance. In addition, the trip will take approximately eight months. And finally, the equipment to be used will be old, Soviet-era spacecrafts with engines running on electricity.
Preliminary plans detail that a small spacecraft will first take passengers to a low orbit space station before blasting them off into the Moon’s orbit, according to Excalibur Almaz’s chief executive Art Dula.
Dula believes the endeavour could turn into a billion dollar business. Hopes are that the first expedition could begin as early as 2015.
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