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Russia, Malaysia Ink Space Deal As Tourist Flight Prices Rise

Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie (left) and Faiz bin Khaleed. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 02, 2006
Russia has signed a contract to send a Malaysian astronaut into space in 2007, but future space tourists face a price increase, a Russian space agency official said Friday. Russia will send the Malaysian astronaut, thought to be a 34-year-old doctor, on board a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station as part of a $900-million contract signed in 2003 to supply the Asian country with 18 Russian multipurpose Su-30MKM air superiority fighters.

The agency said the contract will allow it to start training two Malaysian astronauts, one of whom will be sent to the International Space Station next year - Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Al Masrie and Faiz bin Khaleed, his backup.

The astronaut and his backup were originally scheduled to arrive in Russia for training in late September.

Alexei Krasnov, head of the Russian space agency's manned programs, said earlier Friday that Russia and NASA would soon reach an agreement on sending U.S. astronauts to the ISS in the future.

"We all live in the real world, and the space industry is also not in a vacuum, and we fully depend on global prices," Krasnov said, adding that prices for spacecraft components have grown dramatically in the last two years.

The official said the price for commercial space flights will go up as well, reaching $21.8 million. Four space tourists have paid about $20 million for the pleasure of spending a week on the orbital station, but the Russian official said the down-to-earth problem of inflation was driving up prices.

"The price for space tourist flights will also increase," Krasnov said, adding that each tourist flight deal is discussed individually and is considered a commercial secret.

The latest space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, 40, an Iranian-born American businesswoman, returned to Earth early Friday after paying around $20 million for about eight days in space.

Source: RIA Novosti

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College Park MD (SPX) Oct 02, 2006
The team of the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Universities Space Research Association has been selected by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to establish and operate the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology. CRESST will bring together NASA Goddard researchers and scientists from the Maryland campuses and USRA to build upon the many capabilities and strengths in space science of the participating organizations.

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