Russia, U.S. company to arrange commercial flights round the Moon


ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow region), August 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Federal Space Agency and an American company, Space Adventures, have signed a memorandum of intent on selecting passengers and investors for flights round the Moon, a spokesman for the agency said Tuesday.

Vyacheslav Davidenko said that the agency had signed a memorandum with Space Adventures when a delegation visited the United States recently. The document granted the latter exclusive rights on the marketing of the circumlunar commercial project, which Russia's Energia Rocket and Space Corporation had proposed, and on the selection of would-be astronauts, and investors.

The spokesman said Energia would be in charge of the technical side of the project and added that Russia's leading rocket producer would modernize the Soyuz spaceship, which would be orbited by a Proton or Zenit launch vehicle.

Davidenko said the agency expected the project to be implemented in the next five years. "We hope that the cooperation between Space Adventures and Energia will help promote Russian space technologies and demonstrate Russia's space policy [in commercial space exploration]," he said. "This is a commercial project, which requires no state budget funding."

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