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ISS NASA Science

Sarah Brightman's ISS Trip In Peril 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-space-for-you dept.
RocketAcademy writes "Actress/singer Sarah Brightman's trip to the International Space Station may not happen in 2015 as scheduled. Space Adventures works with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) to fly private citizens like Brightman on Soyuz taxi flights. Those taxi missions normally last eight days, but NASA and Roscosmos are considering a plan to extend the 2015 taxi flight to one month, so it can carry a scientist to perform some additional research aboard ISS. If that happens, Brightman will lose her seat. This situation points to the need for more flexible transportation options and new orbital facilities which are not subject to the same operational restrictions as ISS. SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada are working on the transportation problem, while Bigelow Aerospace expects to begin launching its Space Station Alpha in 2015. So, the era of citizen astronauts visiting ISS may be drawing to a close."
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Sarah Brightman's ISS Trip In Peril

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  • Re:True cost... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:10AM (#43203199) Homepage Journal

    That is a fair question, and it should be pointed out that the cost to travel to the ISS has been steadily going up faster than inflation (at least faster than the CPI). I'd say that those space tourists are more than paying for their share of the costs for getting into space.

    Keep in mind that the point of these flights is to swap "emergency escape" vehicles in the form of Soyuz capsules. These are the lifeboats of the ISS where the people on the ISS can escape and return to the Earth if something really bad happens.... like a core module getting hit by a meteor. The Soyuz spacecraft have a limited amount of time they can be used in space, and to be safe they are replaced at regular intervals.

    Since only two cosmonauts are needed to fly this spacecraft, there is really an "extra" seat in all of these flights.... hence the reason why Russia was willing to sell the flight opportunities to a company like Space Adventures. Previously (in the Soviet Union era) this "extra seat" was often used as a public relations tool where "guest cosmonauts" were offered a ride from mainly countries with good relations with the Soviet Union. In other words, these "tourists" have been going up for several decades now. People flying on the Soyuz are still expected to know how to operate the spacecraft, which is why even the "tourists" still have to spend six months or longer in a training program at Star City before they are allowed to fly.

    This is no Disneyland vacation. Spacecraft capable of flying genuine passengers has yet to be built. Well, the Space Shuttle could have done that, but it was so expensive to operate that mere passengers weren't a viable option on that spacecraft either. Perhaps once the SpaceX Dragon is fully crew certified you might see some real tourists with much more limited training in spaceflight operations that are more completely "paying their own freight" to go into space. How many people do you know that in order to fly to Europe on a 747 need to be certified on that airframe as a commercial pilot (with multi-engine and instrument landing endorsements) before making the trip?

  • Re:With good reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:32AM (#43203463)

    Sure, but that's all engineering, not issues inherent in a particular class of technology. Fungus, for example, needs both moisture and food to grow, there's no magic there. Either they had some organic surfaces that were edible by fungus, or there were deposits of human-origin dust (skin, hair, snot) over condensation. Those same problems are faced in regular buildings down on Earth. Im no Mir apologist, sure it was less pleasant AFAIK than even Skylab, but let's not pretend that Mir's problems were somehow special.

Air is water with holes in it.

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