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Boeing Saves Room for Tourists in Orbital Space Taxi

Boeing's proposal to develop a so-called space taxi for NASA astronauts includes a seat for paying tourists to fly to the International Space Station, the company's program manager told Reuters on Wednesday. That would mark a first for the U.S. space program.

The $4.2 billion, five-year contract allows Boeing to sell rides to tourists, said John Mulholland, who manages for Boeing's commercial crew program. Flights are due to begin in 2017. Mulholland said the price would be competitive with what the Russian space agency now charges to fly tourists to the orbital outpost. "Part of our proposal into NASA would be flying a Space Adventures spaceflight participant up to the ISS," Mulholland said. Virginia-based Space Adventures has been brokering trips to the space station aboard Russian Soyuz capsules for more than a decade. The next space tourist, British singer Sarah Brightman, is due to travel to the space station for 10 days next year. Space Adventures' president, Tom Shelley, says the trip will cost $52 million.

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— Reuters