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Russia returns to space tourism and offers a first citizen spacewalk

As Japan's virtual space tourism rig is readied for bolt-on to ISS

Russia's space agency Roscosmos has re-entered the space tourism market and this time will offer one person the chance to spacewalk.

The agency on Thursday announced a new deal with US outfit Space Adventures to take two people to the International Space Station atop a Soyuz rocket. One of the tourists, according to Space Adventures' announcement, "will have an opportunity to conduct a spacewalk outside the space station, becoming the first private citizen in history to experience open space."

The spacewalking tourist will be accompanied by a professional Russian cosmonaut.

The two companies have previously launched seven space tourists including Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth in 2002. Your correspondent interviewed him about the experience in 2005 and he was still clearly awed by the power of the Soyuz, weightlessness and the views from above, to the extent that he said a sub-orbital tourist flight with the likes of Virgin Galactic held little appeal.

The trip will see the pair of tourists spend 14 days in the Russian module of the ISS.

For what it is worth, NASA's daily log of ISS activities suggests things are a bit dull up there. The log often includes activities like today's "Replacement of broken ISL Ethernet Cable" and "Replace USB to GigE Adapter on NMS Laptop for JSL2 and reseat connections to RJ-45 Ethernet Coupler".

Also this week the ISS crew has worked on a payload called "KIBO" that will see a pair of tablet computers mounted near the windows of the Japanese ISS module. Earthbound punters will be able to film themselves doing something, then have it shown on those tablets and captured by an on-station camera.

"We aim to create a program where people from all over the world can send messages and show their performance in space," says the company behind KIBO. ®

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