One of the space stations that Excalibur Almaz plans on using to taking humans to the moon. (Photo : Excalibur Almaz)
A U.K. company called Excalibur Almaz plans to take tourism to the next level by taking passengers to the moon in 2015. The only catch? It'll cost around $150 million.
The company, based in the space tech hub called the Isle of Man, plans on using refurbished Soviet spacecrafts from the 1970s. They now have in their possession two Salyut-class 63,800 pound space station cores and four reusable reentry vehicles good for three people each. The Salyut cores are the same ones used as living quarters in the International Space Station, and once formed a part of the Mir space station as well.
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Tourists, however, won't get to actually land on the moon, and will instead slingshot around our orbiting neighbor much like Apollo 13 did when an oxygen tank explosion rattled the spacecraft.
The trip would begin by being ferried up to the space station cores that are in low orbit using the Soyuz-FG rockets that take crew members to the International Space Station. The space station cores would be the main vehicle for the trip to the moon, and once the passengers have returned to low Earth orbit, they would be ferried back to Earth's surface using the reusable reentry vehicles. The company is also looking at alternative rocket options such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.
Excalibur Almaz will spend 24 to 30 months refurbishing and upgrading the spacecrafts with new technologies such as electric propulsion and protection from cosmic and solar radiation. If everything goes well, then the company hopes to begin launching humans to the moon in 2015.