Will Use Refurbished Soviet-Era Spacecraft For The Journey
An aerospace company based in Britain says it plans to mount a commercial manned mission to the moon using re-engineered Soviet-era Salyut space station modules and Soyuz capsules for the multi-stage trip. It'll be no luxury cruise despite the $156 million price tag Excalibur Almaz has placed on seats for the 500,000 mile expeditions.
And the trip doesn't even include a landing on the moon. The mission is only designed to achieve lunar orbit.
Announced at the National Space Society's International Space
Development Conference (ISDC) in Washington D.C. in May by Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA) CEO, Art Dula, the company plans to "leverage the billions of dollars of past investment by governments of spacefaring nations and apply advanced technology on an as needed basis to develop a space architecture that provides efficient access to space for commercialization, research and exploration."
The company said in a news release that it has already completed nine successful Reusable Return Vehicle (RRV) Capsule flights, reentries and soft landings with one RRV being flight-tested three times in space and one RRV staying in orbit attached to a Salyut Space Station for 175 days. Numerous other ground and flight tests have also been performed on Excalibur Almaz's RRV Capsules with each RRV expected to be reusable for up to 15 spaceflights.
EA’s large Salyut-type space stations are equivalent to modules flown in space on every space station since 1972. The Salyut-type modules on the Salyut-7 Space Station, Russian MIR Space Station and the Zarya module currently on the International Space Station have been proven during many thousands of hours on orbit.
"Using the modular architecture of our spacecraft and service/cargo modules, Excalibur Almaz transportation systems will provide the lowest development risk approach to create the first step in the infrastructure needed to provide commercially viable business activities in space, including asteroid and lunar mining, research and lunar and planetary exploration," said Mr. Dula.
Excalibur Almaz core space services will include passenger sales, crew & cargo transportation, payload transportation, deployment & recovery, tele-science & microgravity research, remote sensing and geological evaluations & mapping. Additional services will include charter missions, advertising & sponsorship
opportunities, entertainment and astronaut training.
“Our RRV Crew Capsule and the larger Salyut-type Spacecraft will rendezvous and dock in Low Earth Orbit (LEO),” said Mr. Dula. “From LEO our space missions can then take multiple paths to lunar transfer orbit, Low Lunar Orbit, L2 and beyond for all forms of space commercial activities. The options include using low energy transfer orbits to travel to gravity-stable destinations called Lagrange Points, a traditional chemical injection stage and Hohmann transfer technique a rapid trip or an Earth-Moon cycler orbit to fly by the Moon every two weeks." (Image provided by Excalibur Almaz)