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Russia’s ambitions to become the world’s pioneers in space tourism is a step closer to taking off after a Russian company announced plans to send paying tourists on the International Space Station out on spacewalks by the end of 2019.

The company, called Energia, is building a module that will be able to transport up to six intrepid space tourists to the orbiting space station for a 10-day trip.

Speaking to Russian media, Vladimir Solntsev, the head of Energia, said: “We are discussing the possibility of sending tourists on spacewalks. Market analysts have confirmed this: wealthy people are ready to pay money for this.” He said the cost of such a trip could be around $100m (€80m), making it an option only for the world’s truly global elite.  Included in this price will be spacewalks out of the ISS and video clips from the trip for you to post on your social media feeds.

Energia is the same company which was behind the launch of the first man in space Yuri Gagarin in 1961 and is currently building the new module named NEM-2 which will be used as the transporter. Solntsev said the NEM-2, the name of which is still to be confirmed, will accommodate four to six people. It will be fitted with “comfortable” cabins, two toilets and internet access.

Sending tourist into space will not be a first for Russia. Russia sent Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, into space in 2009. The billionaire spent two weeks on the ISS. Also, Iranian-American entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari became the first female space tourist in 2006.

In December last year, Russian space corporation Roscosmos announced its plan to build a 20-ton, 51-foot long luxury hotel on the International Space Station by the year 2022. 

Space tourism is a developing sector currently dominated by Western companies, such as the US-based Virgin Galactic, which unveiled its commercial SpaceShipTwo in 2016. 

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