Space Tourism Coming To Russia
August 31, 2012

Russia Working On Space Tourist Vehicle

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Russia's NPO Molniya design bureau is designing a space tourist aircraft along with the Myasischev Experimental Factory (EMZ), according to a report by RIA Novosti.

The companies are designing a space plane for sub-orbital "space tourism" and small satellite launches.

The space plane will be launched from a subsonic carrier aircraft capable of getting to high altitudes.

The spacecraft will take off from the launch aircraft and climb to an altitude of 65 to 75 miles at 3,300 to 4,000 feet per second.

"Space tourists will experience weightlessness for three to five minutes and can see the surface of the earth through portholes. After entry into the dense layers of the atmosphere, the spaceplane will make a landing on an aerodrome," the report says.

The space plane will be capable of carrying anywhere between four to 14 passengers onboard, depending on the carrier aircraft.

NPO Molniya and EMZ are also designing a version of the space-plane to carry small satellites into low-earth orbit.

"The first stage of the project has been designed for the internal and external configuration of the Hammer hypersonic pilotless booster," the documents state. "It will be capable of carrying small satellites of up to 1,700 pounds into orbits from 125-300 miles."

NPO Molniya is one of Russia's largest spacecraft production companies, and was involved in the Buran space shuttle program. EMZ built the 3-MT, a derivative of the Myasischev M-4 bomber which flew in the 1950s.

The upcoming vehicle, according to the RIA Novosti report, is based in part on the Su-27 series of Russian military aircraft. It will be using a hypersonic booster called Hammer, and is based on turbofan engines used in the Su-27 fighter jet.

The move is seen as a response to the U.S. military's advancements in designing hypersonic aircraft.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told Rossiya 24 TV that defense officials needed to consider hypersonic aviation technology to keep up with U.S. military research.

The aircraft will have both civilian and military uses, according to the documents read by RIA Novosti.