Google kingpin Sergey Brin has put down $5m to book a ride into space aboard a Russian rocket, according to reports. American orbital-joyride travel agency Space Adventures revealed the move yesterday.
"I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier and am looking forward to the possibility of going into space," said Brin, quoted by the BBC.
It appears that Space Adventures is arranging a special customised Soyuz for the online ads billionaire, which will rendezvous with the International Space Station in 2011.
"The Soyuz to be used for this mission will be a specially manufactured craft, separate from the other Soyuz vehicles designated for the transportation of the ISS crews," said Alexey Krasnov of Russian space agency Roskosmos.
"This private mission, flying two Space Adventures clients at once, will not interfere with the implementation of the ISS programme or the obligations of the Russian space agency."
Krasnov added that having the special tourist Soyuz on hand would add "flexibility and redundancy" to the ISS support programme.
Brin will no doubt be hoping that technical snags during recent Soyuz re-entries, which exposed "scared" astronauts to "twice the usual" amount of G-force, are sorted out by 2011. ®