Spaceflight to cost $40 million in 2009

Space Adventures says the cost of a flight to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket will go up as much as $20 million in coming years because of inflation.

Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
Stefanie Olsen

Inflation has officially hit commercial spaceflight.

When technology industry veteran Greg Olsen traveled to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket in October 2005, his trip cost about $20 million. But the price of the same spaceflight, which is arranged by Virginia-based Space Adventures, will cost between $30 million and $40 million in the coming two years, according to an AP article.

The rising price is "mostly because of the fallen dollar," Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson told the AP.

The dollar is worth about 25.5 Russian rubles, down from 32 rubles in 2002.

Space Adventures said Wednesday that it booked additional commercial seats with the Russian Space Agency for flights in 2008 and 2009, and it is negotiating for seats on the three-man crew in 2010 and beyond. So the company must be confident that there's enough demand for a $40 million spaceflight.

In contrast, Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's developing space company, is charging roughly $200,000 for a seat aboard its rocket, which will take tourists on a suborbital trip. Virgin Galactic said its first flight should launch in 2008, but its dates have slipped before.

"Virgin Galactic will seek to reduce this price as fast and as far as possible, allowing many thousands of people to experience space for themselves," according to its Web site.