Moscow, August 15 (Interfax-AVN) - The Energia Corporation is holding initial negotiations on a tourist trip around the moon onboard a Soyuz spaceship.
"We are holding initial negotiations on the commercial flight around the moon. The crew makeup, partners and project budget are on the agenda," Energia President Vitaly Lopota told Interfax-AVN on Monday.
Space Adventures announced in late January 2011 that it had sold to an individual one of the two tickets for the commercial flight to the moon aboard a Soyuz spaceship for $150 million. The company did not say who bought the ticket; it just hinted that the person was well known.
There had been reports claiming that movie director James Cameron, the maker of Titanic and Avatar, might be the first 'lunar' tourist. The reports were refuted.
Space Adventures spoke about the lunar tourism option for the first time in August 2005. Back then the company offered tickets at $100 million each.
Energia, the designer and manufacturer of Soyuz manned spaceships, suggested two ways of a commercial flight to the moon.
It is possible to make separate launches of the Soyuz and the booster unit, to dock them on a low orbit, to fly to the moon with the help of the booster unit's engine, to separate the Soyuz from the booster unit, to fly around the moon, to head back to Earth and to land. The trip will take from eight to nine days.
It is also possible to pay a visit to the International Space Station (ISS) before docking with the booster unit and flying around the moon. That flight may last from nine to 21 days.
An aerospace industry representative told Interfax-AVN earlier that the lunar modification of the Soyuz needed one unmanned test flight.
Space Adventures was established in 1998 as a company offering space flights to individuals. It has organized eight tourist trips to the ISS so far.