Russian space tourism company selects launch site

Russian company that plans to send tourists on suborbital space tours has signed a deal with a Russian region for the construction of what may become Russia’s first private space launch pad.

The launch pad is to be built in Nizhny Novgorod Region in central Russia and operated by CosmoCourse, a small Moscow-based company. The firm intends to create its own reusable space launch system and send adventurous tourists on short trips up to 200km high. The selection process for the exact plot of land is yet to be done, the region’s government said.

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The launch scheme is simpler than what other companies vying for the emerging market have. It won’t have a fancy air-launched spaceplane like Virgin Galactic or even a two-stage rocket like Origin Blue. CosmoCourse wants a single-stage liquid-propelled reusable launch vehicle and a reusable capsule which only uses engines during landing.

Each launch would carry up to six tourists and a guide, and would last 15 minutes, roughly a third of the time in weightlessness, according to the company’s site. The ticket price it aims for is about $200,000 to $250,000, roughly the same as the competition.

Unlike Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, the people behind Virgin Galactic and Origin Blue respectively, CosmoCourse’s lone sponsor remains anonymous. Another difference is that the Russian firm is yet to show, let alone test, its launch system. As of late 2018, it was testing the engine for its rocket and was planning the maiden flight for 2025.