Will citizen space explorers beat NASA back to the Moon?
Space Adventures is pushing the boundaries of citizen exploration by offering a privately funded circumlunar mission. The proposed flight would use Russian Soyuz hardware.
The Soviet Union flew two Zond (modified Soyuz) capsules around the Moon in 1968. Those unmanned test flights used a free-return trajectory – the same sort of trajectory famously used by Apollo 13. The circumlunar flight proposed by Space Adventures would use a similar trajectory.
Space Adventures says it already has a customer for one of the two seats it needs to fill. When it finds another customer, the flight will be booked and a launch date announced.
The seats are going for about $100 million, so finding another citizen explorer for the second seat may take a while. It’s too bad NASA doesn’t have the foresight to take advantage of this opportunity.