Thursday 02 December 2021 - 1:51:21 pm

Prices of commercial space flights to fall in 2030s: Russian industry executive

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By Lina Ibrahim

DUBAI, 27th October, 2021 (WAM) -- Prices of commercial space flights will go down "sometime in the 2030s", a top Russian space industry executive predicted.

Dmitry Loskutov, Director-General of Glavkosmos, the commercial arm of the Russian space corporation, ROSCOSMOS, said to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), it would be difficult for the industry to thrive in the next five to ten years without billionaires.

"We always stress the fact that competition is good. It helps to bring the prices down," Loskutov said, predicting that "prices will start going down sometime in the 2030s" and will be affordable for "common people".

"Today, we are talking with the industry players that we have to make everything possible to bring the prices down and I think the industry is listening. We are forward thinkers, looking at how to be more competitive and attractive to our customers."

Blue Origin’s prices for tickets on future flights range between US$200,000 to US$300,000, while Virgin Galactic prices start at US$450,000. Glavkosmos prefers to provide prices to potential customers when contacting them.

Last month, the Russian government announced that it has allocated more than US$60 million to the company to produce a rocket and spaceship for tourist flights by 2024.

"Somebody still has to pay the full price before it goes down," Loskutov continued, explaining that without billionaires who are willing to pay more, the industry would struggle "in the next five to ten years".

Speaking on the sidelines of the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2021), the world’s largest space event, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Loskutov believes the UAE, along with other advanced players, are heading in the right direction.

ROSCOSMOS had collaborated with the UAE on the preparation and training of the country’s first astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori.

"We are proud of the fact that Glavkosmos was part of that contract. Those ties, that we were fostering during the preflight preparation and training, are very strong and we see absolutely no problem that the next flight could be taken on another country’s spacecraft," Loskutov said in reference to the emerging competition from the private sector.

"Space is not about unfair competition. Space is about cooperation because no country can go beyond the lower Earth orbit just on its own. And secondly, no private industry can survive without state support."

Commercial space industry dates back to the late 1990 when Glavkosmos, in collaboration with Tokyo Broadcasting System, sent a Japanese journalist, Toyohiro Akiyama, to the then operational Russian Space Station, Mir.

"Toyohiro did not pay from his own funds. He was funded by the Tokyo Radio Broadcasting company. That’s why we consider Dennis Tito as the first tourist to space," Loskutov said.

Businessman Dennis Tito reportedly had paid US$20 million to fly with the Russians to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001.

Speaking about Glavkosmos’ upcoming plans, its Director-General said their next commercial space mission is scheduled for December 2021. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant will travel to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft.

According to Loskutov, after the mission in December, the next one for Russians will be launched by the end of 2023. "Next year will be a very busy time because we will have a lot of EVA. The professional cosmonauts will have to do a lot of work. So, we are not planning to send tourists into space next year."

EVA is when a crew member leaves the protective environment of a pressurised spacecraft cabin and ventures out into the vacuum of space wearing an extravehicular spacesuit.

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