Russian space tourism company ceases operations

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A Russian company that planned to send tourists to space through the country’s first private cosmodrome has scrapped the project and will permanently close.

Kosmokurs’ operations will cease due to “insurmountable difficulties” in coordinating with local authorities on the cosmodrome project as well as the company’s “inability to obtain needed regulatory documents from the Defense Ministry” for the design of a suborbital tourist rocket, its CEO Pavel Pushkin told.

Pushkin founded the private space corporation in 2014 after being inspired by the early success of companies like SpaceX, founded by U.S. billionaire Elon Musk, and Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos in 2017 had approved Kosmokurs’ ambitious plan to send tourists to space by 2025. Roscosmos is now looking into hiring Kosmokurs’ 50 or so employees.

Kosmokurs planned to charge tourists between $200,000 and $250,000 to spend about five minutes in zero gravity, with up to 115 launches sending up to 700 civilians, mainly foreigners, on the journey per year.

Pushkin planned to develop a single-stage reentry rocket and a seven-seater spacecraft for the suborbital tourist flights. The company planned to build a commodore in the Nizhny Novgorod region to carry out the launches, with a construction deadline set for 2025.