Space Adventures announced today that it has concluded an agreement with the Russian space agency Roskosmos and RSC Energia for additional Soyuz seats for future flights of space tourists, starting in 2013. Three seats will be made available as Energia increases production of Soyuz spacecraft from four to five a year; the additional Soyuz flight would be used for short (approximately ten-day) taxi flights to the station, and apparently not as part of regular crew rotation missions. Seats have not been available since Guy Laliberté’s flight over a year ago because all the seats on current and planned Soyuz missions are needed for ferrying long-term ISS crewmembers to and from the station.
“Since Guy Laliberté’s mission, there has been an increase of interest by private individuals, organizations and commercial entities seeking ways to access the space station,” Space Adventures chairman Eric Anderson said in the company’s statement. “We have been speaking with these parties about science, education and multi-media programs and hope to make some major announcements in the coming year.”
Left unstated in the release is how those three seats will be spread out over those additional missions: will it be one seat each on three flights, or could one mission carry two paying customers with a professional cosmonaut? A Space Adventures spokesperson said no decision has been made yet on how to apportion the seats.