Richard Garriott, 46, the son of former NASA astronaut Owen K. Garriott, and Nik Halik, 38, started training for the next trip to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled for October 2008, at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center located in Star City, northeast Moscow, in late January.
"Richard Garriott began Russian language and physical training on January 21," Sergey Tafrov, the center deputy head said, "His backup member Nik Halik has been training since January 28 and is undergoing a thorough medical examination."
"I look forward to training with him [Halik] because not only is it meant to prepare myself for flight, but also to prepare Nik for his future flight. I definitely will be on-hand for his eventual launch to space," Garriott was quoted as saying by U.S. Space Adventures, the only current space tourism provider.
Nik Halik will take part in the Soyuz TMA-13 mission if Garriott is unable to participate in the flight, but even if he cannot, he is determined to fly to the ISS in the future: "The space station will be my first stop, with my eyes focused on the moon," the would-be first Australian space tourist told the U.S. company.
After the $3 million training program the two men will be certified as fully-trained astronauts.
Dennis Tito, an American businessman and former NASA scientist, became the first space tourist when he visited the ISS in 2001. He was followed by South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and Gregory Olsen, a U.S. entrepreneur and scientist, in 2005.
In 2006 Anousheh Ansari, 40, a U.S. passport holder of Iranian descent and communications head, became the first female space tourist, followed by Charles Simonyi, 58, a U.S. passport holder born in Hungary and a key figure in developing Microsoft's Word and Excel applications, in 2007.
The space tourists paid about $20 million each for the pleasure of spending a week on the orbital station, but Russia said the price for commercial space flights was set to rise in the future, reaching $25 million.