Space company aims to fly customers to the Moon

A British space-exploration company has revealed its aim to fly the public to the Moon from 2015 — providing they have £100m for a ticket.

Isle of Man-based Excalibur Almaz owns a fleet of six proven aircraft that it wishes to use for crewed space missions to the Moon and beyond.

In an address at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, Excalibur Almaz’s founder and chief executive officer, Art Dula, outlined the business case that underpins the project, which is based on independent research by the Futron Corporation on the economics of commercial space voyages and lunar missions.

‘The lunar mission costs about $150m [£96m] a seat for the first mission,’ Dula told The Engineer. ‘I expect prices will decline after this.’

The company intends to use a combined spacecraft — comprising an ‘Almaz’ capsule and a ‘Salyut-class’ spacecraft that was previously used by the Soviet Union for orbital spying operations — as a transportation system to the Moon, asteroids and deep space.

‘We can offer this service because we had access to some very well-preserved and very robust heritage equipment from the Soviet space programme,’ said Dula. ‘Specifically, we have four reusable returned vehicles that can fly 15 times each.’

Dula said the first mission will see three passengers launched from the Kazakhstan cosmodrome in 2015, providing targets are met and customers come forward.

Alex Downie, a member of the Isle of Man government’s Department of Economic Development, told The Engineer that the island is very pro-space. He believes that there are a multitude of economic benefits to be had by welcoming space companies to the island, including job creation and skills development.