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Russian space corporation approves first private project of reusable rocket

March 04, 2016, 14:30 UTC+3

The company plans to make flights lasting 15 minutes for groups of six space tourists

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© Marina Lystseva/TASS

MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos has admitted the private space company KosmoKurs to working out a project for the development of a reusable system for space tourism flights, KosmoKurs Director General Pavel Pushkin said on Friday.

"Our technical design specification was approved by Roscosmos two days ago. The system’s preliminary design will be created with this document," Pushkin said at the InSpace forum.

According to him, the technical design specification has also been approved by the Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) and the Keldysh Research Center. In addition, Pushkin said, Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov has already approved the project. "Igor Anatolyevich has taken the project with enthusiasm and gave orders to promote this project", Pushkin said.

The system that is being developed by KosmoKurs consists of a reusable suborbital launch vehicle and reusable suborbital spacecraft for space trips at an altitude of 200 km.

The company plans to make flights for groups of six space tourists. Each flight will last for 15 minutes, during which the tourists will be in zero gravity for 5-6 minutes. One pilot will steer the capsule. KosmoKurs plans to organize the first space trip in 2020. The price of one ticket for the flight will be $200,000-$250,000.

The maximum load factor for tourists will be 5G, which is higher than during landing of a manned descent capsule of Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. "It's quite normal load - 4G during the ascent and 5G - during the descent. The load factor in an emergency is 7G. We have the load factor of 9.5G during an emergency descent when many systems fail. It’s a short-term load that is well endured by a human being," the company's head said.

In early February, the American company Virgin Galactic owned by famous British billionaire Richard Branson introduced its new suborbital tourist spacecraft model of SpaceShipTwo, created to replace the previous model that crashed about 1.5 years ago. SpaceShipTwo is being developed exclusively for tourist purposes. It is assumed that the cost of a two-hour flight, during which tourists can experience weightlessness and see the Earth from a height of 100 km, will be about $250,000.

SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry six passengers, as well as two pilots, on brief sojourns to suborbital space. During operational flights-which will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico-the space plane will be carried to an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) by an airplane called WhiteKnightTwo, and then dropped. At that point, SpaceShipTwo's onboard rocket motor will fire up, blasting the vehicle up to a minimum of 62 miles (100 km) above Earth's surface - the traditionally accepted boundary where outer space begins. Passengers will get to see the curvature of Earth against the blackness of space and experience a few minutes of weightlessness, Virgin Galactic representatives say.

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