Cost: An Orbital Space Flight (what Simonyi opted for) goes for $20-25 million. Space Adventures has other lower-priced experiences (one might consider them stocking stuffers): zero gravity flight – $3,500; or a suborbital spaceflight – $102,000. For the truly big spender, the first private expedition to the moon is slated for 2011 for a nifty $100 Million.
The training: Orbital candidates train over 900 hours at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, familiarizing themselves with the Soyuz TMA (the spacecraft currently in use). Once participants are flight certified they launch to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Bang for your buck: 8-10 days in space aboard the ISS, where you orbit the Earth at approximately 26,720 kilometers per hour.
Travel buddies: You may be riding shotgun, but who’s driving? Highly trained professional Russian cosmonauts, of course. Simonyi flew with Russian Expedition 15 crew members.
Accommodations: The space station is equipped with microwave ovens and refrigerators, allowing for many “normal” types of food. You sleep aboard the station in a vertical compartment.
Risk factor: Discounting the obvious (you’re being launched into outer space inside a speeding rocket – there must be some inherent risk, right?), the Soyuz TMA is recognized as the world’s most reliable spacecraft. It is also the longest serving manned spacecraft in the world.
For more information on Space Adventures call (888) 85-SPACE or (703) 524-7172 or email email@example.com.