NEW YORK--Google co-founder Sergey Brin has put down a $5 million deposit to book a flight into space with the space tourism company Space Adventures.
The company announced Wednesday that Brin will be the founding member of its Orbital Mission Explorers Circle, a group of six individuals who will each make a $5 million down payment to book a seat on a future orbital space flight.
Google and its co-founder Brin have long support space exploration. The company has sponsored the Google Lunar X Prize, a $25 million competition to land an unmanned craft on the moon.
"I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier and am looking forward to the possibility of going into space," Brin said in a statement.
Space Adventures' new club was formed to help kick-start a new effort by the company to fund its own rockets and missions to the International Space Station. Previously, Space Adventures, which has been around for 10 years, has bought seats aboard already scheduled Russian missions to the International Space Station for its clients. Now it will build its own rocket for its own missions. The inaugural flight with its own Russian-built Soyuz rocket is scheduled for 2011, Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures, said at a press conference here Wednesday.
The company plans to launch one mission to the International Space Station per year after 2011. Eventually it hopes to allow its wealthy clients to take space walks while in orbit or even go to the moon.
Google's Brin, who has not announced when he plans to take his trip into space, could wait to schedule his trip when those options are available.
"It's entirely up to him," said Anderson. "When he chooses a date is when he will go. It could be in three years or it could be in five."
Even if Brin isn't on Space Adventures' first privately funded flight, it's likely that at least one of the two seats available will go to a yet-unnamed member of its Orbital Mission Explorers Circle.
The $5 million deposit made by the group's members will be credited to the cost of a future space flight and help fund the program. The exact cost of each trip will vary depending on when the flight is taken and the duration of the mission, Anderson said.
Space Adventures has already sent five individuals into space with trips costing between $20 million and $40 million. Anderson said future trips aboard its own Soyuz rocket are expected to cost more.
Space Adventures has seats reserved for flights to the space station this October and April 2009. Richard Garriott, a well known computer game developer, will be on the October trip. Garriott paid $35 million for his seat.
Garriott's father Owen Garriott was a NASA astronaut, who spent 60 days aboard Skylab in 1973 and 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 in 1983. And Richard Garriott will be the first second generation astronaut to make it into space. Garriott has been training for his trip at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia since earlier this year and he has been keeping a blog of efforts here.