MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti) - NASA intends to send astronauts to the International Space Station and back to Earth using Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the head of Russian space industry leader Energia Rocket and Space Corporation said Friday.
"Earlier NASA had planned to use shuttles [to carry astronauts] but the number of their flights were reduced from 28 to 17," Nikolai Sevastyanov said. "Today NASA can buy Russian spacecraft... including Soyuz craft that dock with the ISS once every six months, and are used as rescue spacecraft."
Speaking on the Clipper reusable spacecraft project, Sevastyanov said, "This new space system allows Russia to form a new market for space flights."
Russia will be able to send foreign astronauts and tourists to space using Clipper spacecraft, he said.
"There are several hundred millionaires in the world who are fond of extreme tourism and would like to fly to space on the Clipper," Sevastyanov said. However, health requirements on people traveling into space need to be relaxed, he said.
The use of the more comfortable and technically advanced Clipper will cut the time of preparations for a space flight, he said. "Today 1.5 years is needed to train an astronaut for a Soyuz flight, but it will take only three months to prepare an unprofessional passenger for a Clipper flight."