Russia to host first spacewalk for a tourist outside the ISS

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NASA opens up International Space Station to tourists
WATCH: NASA announced in 2019 that it will allow the general public to visit the International Space Station. – Jun 7, 2019

That’s one small step for a billionaire and one giant leap for tourist kind.

Russia is poised to win an unusual leg of the commercial space race after announcing plans to stage the first-ever spacewalk for a tourist outside the International Space Station (ISS).

The Energia space corporation, which is part of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, announced on Thursday that it will conduct the first spacewalk with a private tourist on the ISS in 2023.

The plan is part of a new contract between Energia and Space Adventures, a private U.S. space tourism company with a long track record. The joint venture will send two space tourists to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule sometime in 2023.

“We plan that one of the participants of the expedition will do a spacewalk from the Russian segment, together with a professional Russian cosmonaut,” Energia said in a statement obtained by the AFP.

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Russia and Space Adventures have sent several wealthy tourists into space in the past, including Dennis Tito, the first-ever tourist to visit the ISS. Their newest plan would make someone the first private citizen to set foot outside of the space station.

“A private citizen completing a spacewalk would be another huge step forward in private spaceflight,” Eric Anderson, chairman and CEO of Space Adventures, said in a separate statement. “We applaud our colleagues at Energia for working with us to create amazing new adventures in space.”

Space Adventures is currently seeking a deep-pocketed adventurer to take this next step in space tourism. The company doesn’t list a price tag for the journey on its website, although you probably won’t be able to find the necessary cash in your couch.

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Tito reportedly paid about US$20 million for his trip into space back in 2001, so it’s safe to assume that a spacewalk in 2023 will be somewhere in the eight-figure range.

Space Adventures says the round-trip, orbit-round-the-world experience will include a 16-day stay aboard the ISS with an “unobstructed view of the Earth.”

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Tourists will have to undergo training in Russia before the flight, with additional time needed for whoever buys the spacewalk experience.

The trip is one of several space tourist missions planned for the next few years. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company recently signed a deal with NASA for private space missions, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to send multiple tourists off-world over the next few years.

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History made as astronauts take private rocket to ISS

Perhaps the most high-profile trip will be SpaceX’s plans to send a tourist around the moon on its Big Falcon Rocket in 2023. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is slated to make that trip along with several guests for an undisclosed amount.

SpaceX also plans to send three people into space aboard its Crew Dragon craft next year.

The company successfully tested the reusable craft last month, proving that it could be a viable alternative to Russia’s Soyuz — the only current way to get to the ISS.

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