With the space shuttle fleet retired from service, the United States currently pays Russia more than $65 million apiece to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station, according to THIS Telegraph article.
How much did the first "space tourists" flown to the International Space Station (ISS) pay for the same flight by the Russians, I wondered? The first, Dennis Tito, payed a reported $20 million in 2001. Gregory Olsen also paid $20 million in 2005. The last, a Canadian circus magnate, paid $35 million for his 2009 flight to the ISS.
Is it any wonder, then, that Russia indefinitely suspended these private space tourist flights for millionaires in 2010, at the same time the space shuttle fleet was decommissioned. At the time, Russia characterized the suspension as being bandwidth and safety-related, according to THIS Reuters article. But as it turns out, it was really all about money. Predictably.
The crew of the most recent mission to the ISS, including one American, arrived home safely just hours ago, coincidentally. What did we get for our $65 million? The highlight of their "eventful and historic" mission, according to THIS Fox News article, was that one of the three became the first ever Japanese man to command the ISS. Oh, and they oversaw the arrival of a cargo capsule that re-supplied the ISS. Oh, and they also participated in an "unprecedented" two hour TV event titled "Live From Space" that was broadcast live on the National Geographic Channel. Wow.
In light of all of the above, I laughed when I read this morning of Russia's new 'threat' today to stop ferrying American astronauts to the ISS in light of the crisis in Ukraine, and embargo that they said would begin in (pinky to mouth): 10 years.