Doubling Up on ISS Tourists

In 2015, two tourists could be launching on this vessel (Credits: NASA).

Not long after official word that Sarah Brightman would be the next tourist to journey to the International Space Station aboard Russia’s Soyuz, it now seems Roscosmos may consider sending two tourists to ISS in the same vessel. On November  15, Roscosmos manned space flight program director Alexei Krasnov indicated that such a decision was in the works.

“The mission commander must be a professional. There can be no compromise on that. The other two candidates are still being discussed. We have time to adopt a decision,” he said. 

Financial concerns may be a key consideration in allowing a second tourist to join the mission, since Russia’s space program officials have been vocal in decrying decreasing budgets in recent years and Brightman won her spot on a 2015 flight by paying more than NASA would for the seat.

But with two tourists and just one professional cosmonaut aboard the launching vessel, safety becomes a concern. What if something should happen to the Soyuz commander? With two laypersons along for the ride, there would be no one to back him up.

 Krasnov told journalists that the Energia Space Rocket Corporation would have to confirm the safety of such an arrangement – but he seemed to have no doubts that such a confirmation would be forthcoming. “The corporation will send us a letter, in which it will say that it can be done given the spaceship’s adjustments that we will carry out before 2015,” Krasnov said.

Below, the ISS Expedition 33 crew returned to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-05M on November 18: