SPACE: If you got the bucks you can go

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun May 20 2001 - 10:43:31 MDT

SPACE.COM has this interesting piece:

"Energia Plans to Offer Two Tourists Seats on Soyuz"


This raises an interesting question of precisely how
expensive a Soyuz launch really is or whether its
being indirectly subsidized by the government.
(And do the Soyuz capsules get recycled or are
they one-offs?) You have to wonder if they
could up the seat count if they built the capsules
out of the best technology available today?

If you figure 2 people at $20 million a pop, thats
$40 million -- can the production cost of the rocket
and launch expenses really be less than that?

Thats about an order of magnitude less than what a
shuttle launch costs (though I think they can fit 6
on the shuttle).

It now gets interesting, if you view the launch facilities
as sunk costs (paid for by the taxpayers, satellite launches,
etc.) are we starting to get to the era where the cost
of producing and flying the rocket & capsule is affortable
by perhaps 0.0004% of the people in the first world if
you fly from the third world? What is the size of the
ground control team that you need if you are just
circling the Earth?

I think Tito's trip is going to have a big impact as
a paradigm breaker.


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