The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.
Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.
The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.
Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.
TASSreports that it is theoretically possible to reduce the time it takes to train a non-professional astronaut (aka, space tourists or spaceflight participants) to fly to orbit aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to under the current four months. Paying customers used to spend months in training prior to a flight.
MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Monday, December 20, 2021, the crew of the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft returned to Earth from a space expedition. For the Hero of Russia, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, she was the third in a row and the shortest – only twelve days. The crew commander was tasked with delivering to the ISS and then returning to Earth the Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano, who made space travel as tourists.
VIENNA, Va. (Space Adventures PR) — Space Adventures, Inc., the world’s leading space experiences company, announced the Russian Soyuz MS-20 carrying Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) and his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, successfully landed in Kazakhstan following their spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS). The duo’s journey lasted a total of 12 days under the command of Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.
FAA Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith has issued an order laying out requirements for the awarding of Commercial Space Astronaut Wings for trips to space and honorary astronaut wings to those who have advanced the field.
Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin has said that Russia will extend cosmonaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from six to 12 months in order to gather data needed for missions to the moon and Mars.
“We are talking about stable operations that will be carried out as part of yearly expeditions. Now this will be placed on a systemic basis with the corresponding system of biomedical researches. Year-long expeditions are what we need,” Rogozin said.
Well, that sounds good. Far sighted, even visionary. That’s what makes it so odd; these are not words normally associated with the Roscosmos boss. Something else seems to be going on here.
For Russia, 2020 was a mixed year in terms of launch. Once the world’s leader in sending payloads into space, the nation finished a distant third behind the United States and China with only 17 orbital flights. That figure was eight below the 25 launches in 2019, and Russia’s lowest number of the 21st century. The U.S. and China finished with 44 and 39 launch attempts, respectively.
On the bright side, 2020 was the second year in a row in which Russia did not experience a launch failure. That streak came after more a decade during which the Russian launch industry was plagued with multiple fmishaps.
STAR CITY, Russia, June 15, 2021 (Roscosmos PR) — At the Yu.A. Gagarin, on June 15, 2021, the participants of the visiting expedition’s space flight were presented to the management and staff of the Center.
By the decision of the interdepartmental commission for the selection of cosmonauts for the VC-20 crews as space flight participants, the main crew were appointed:
Yusaku Maezawa, president of Start Today Corporation, businessman.
Yozo Hirano, producer, personal assistant to Maezawa Yusaku.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin became the commander of the prime crew.
Back-up crew commander – Alexander Skvortsov.
Shun Ogiso, Public Relations Manager of Start Today Corporation, will also take part in the training.
MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The top management of Glavkosmos (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) visited the Zvezda Research and Production Enterprise in Tomilino, Moscow Region. Representatives of Glavkosmos and the leadership of NPP Zvezda held substantive negotiations, during which they discussed work on the implementation of contracts for the manufacture of spacesuits, cradles and chairs for the Indian manned program, as well as the manufacture of appropriate equipment for participants in the scientific and educational project “Challenge”.
All work under the contracts between Glavkosmos and NPP “Zvezda” is carried out by the enterprise in accordance with the schedule. In addition, the parties substantively discussed interaction in the field of new promising projects, including the use of many years of experience and production facilities of NPP “Zvezda” for the manufacture of individual flight equipment that will be used by commercial participants in space flights – tourists and researchers.
The possibility of commercial space flight participants using equipment manufactured by NPP Zvezda to provide spacewalks was discussed separately, in connection with the receipt of such requests by Glavkosmos.
Glavkosmos is a subsidiary of the Roscosmos State Corporation. The main task of the company is to promote the achievements of the Russian rocket and space industry to world markets and to manage complex international projects. For more than thirty years of the company’s history, more than 140 international contracts have been successfully implemented, including the launch of more than 150 spacecraft as an associated payload.
ZvezdaResearch and Production Enterprise is a leading enterprise in Russia in the field of creation and production of individual life support systems for pilots and cosmonauts, means of rescuing crews and passengers in case of aircraft accidents, systems for refueling aircraft in flight.
LONGUEUIL, Que. (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Virgin Galactic today, heralding the beginning of a collaborative relationship between the two organizations.
The purpose of this collaboration is to explore the possibilities of using the Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System (VSS), which offers suborbital microgravity flights, for future CSA payloads and spaceflight participants. It also aims to facilitate the exchange of information on collaboration opportunities between Virgin Galactic, the CSA, and the Canadian space industry and academia.
Virgin Galactic and the CSA will begin by discussing the capabilities of the VSS and related Virgin Galactic services. The two organizations will also look at creating opportunities to consult with Canadian industry and potential users of the VSS.
This agreement will support the CSA’s objective to be Canada’s leader in capability demonstration by providing the space industry, universities and other government departments with access to platforms, demonstration opportunities and unique expertise.
GALVESTON, Texas (UTMB PR) – People have dreamed of traveling to space and gazing back at earth since the dawn of time, but until recently space travel has been something reserved for a select few, mainly astronauts. Now with the advent of commercial suborbital space travel, that opportunity is closer than ever before for everyday citizens.