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Thu, Jul 19, 2007

Falling Dollar Leads To Rise In Space Vacation Prices

Competition For Space On A Soyuz For NASA Will Also Be Fierce

Blame it on the weak US dollar. The cost of a trip to the International Space Station on board a Russian Soyuz spaceship early this year was $25 million. Trips planned in 2008 and 2009 will cost between $30 million and $40 million.

"It's mostly because of the fallen dollar," Eric Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Space Adventures, said Wednesday. The company brokers trips with Russia's space agency.

Currently the US dollar is worth about 25 Russian rubles, reports the Associated Press, compared with 32 rubles in 2002.

There are about 12 people scheduled to go through the process of reserving flights to the space station. So far, the company has arranged five trips at $20 million to $25 million a pop. There are two more seats available for 2008 and 2009.

Prospective space tourists must pass a barrage of physical examinations and undergo extensive training at a Russian space facility. Oh, and put down a 20 percent deposit, too.

After the shuttles are grounded in 2010, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will rely on the Soyuz flights to get astronauts to the space station and the crew capacity on the space station will grow from three to six in 2009. This will increase the competition for the one of the three seats aboard the Soyuv vehicles.

"We're certainly working out ways to get more seats," Anderson said. "With the competition at that point, it becomes more difficult."

FMI: www.spaceadventures.com, www.nasa.gov

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