The news media has something of a case of amnesia when it comes to space tourism in Russia: they regularly, breathlessly report comments that Russia will stop flying space tourists on Soyuz flights to the ISS. Every few months, it seems, a Russian official makes comments to that regard, dutifully reported by the wire services and others. There’s a good reason why they’re not: the seats are all needed for ferrying crews to and from the ISS, particularly with the retirement of the shuttle. Also recall that Russia had made similar statements in the past only to have seats become available, as was the case with last year’s flight of Guy Laliberté. When that flight opportunity was first announced last year, Space Adventures’ Eric Anderson said he felt there still might be occasional flight opportunities even after the station goes to a six-person crew.
Virgin Galactic provided an update on their plans at a conference in Dubai this week, although the information they provided appears to be largely similar to what the company reported at a suborbital research conference in Boulder last month. Will Whitehorn did say that he didn’t believe the company didn’t need additional investment to complete development of SpaceShipTwo after Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Group invested $280 million into the company last year. Although Aabar has exclusive regional rights to SS2, Whitehorn said there were no plans for SS2 flights to take place there for the foreseeable future.
If you (or, rather, your kids) watch the Nickelodeon show “iCarly”, you might be interested in Friday’s episode, based on this description: “A quirky billionaire asks Carly and her friends to put on the first live Web show from outer space, so they undergo tests for space travel.” A billionaire who wants to send some kids into orbit to do a webcast is probably a little more than just “quirky”.