Russia will increase the number of Soyuz spaceship launches and resume space tourism in 2012, an aerospace industry source told Interfax news agency on Thursday.
“There will be five Russian spacecraft, instead of four, starting from 2012. Four spacecraft will perform the International Space Station program, and one will be offered to space tourists,” an unnamed source said.
Speaking at the mission control center the Energia Corporation President, Vitaly Lopota, confirmed plans to increase the number of spacecraft.
“If no problems occur, the construction of the fifth spaceship will begin in the middle of this year,” Lopota stated.
In 2009 Russia already doubled the number of Soyuz launches from two to four, due to the increase of the ISS crew from three to six people.
All in all, seven space tourists visited the ISS from 2001-2009, including American Charles Simonyi, who made it into orbit twice. The latest space tourist, Guy Laliberte, visited the ISS at the end of 2009.