Excalibur Almaz in the Isle of Man

Today I got the opportunity to check out a space vehicle, which is probably the closest I’ve ever been to something that could make it’s way out of the hold of Earth’s gravity. It was the Almaz capsule being deployed by Excalibur Almaz as part of their foray into space tourism. The module I saw wasn’t quite the same as the one on their website, but I would guess the functional elements are the same as the diagram below:

almaz

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the modules:

The TKS-derived space capsules, which vaguely resemble a cross between the American Gemini and Apollo capsules, are unique by Russian/Soviet standards. They are equipped to carry three passengers or operate autonomously, but unlike the American capsules the Almaz capsules are reusable from 50 to 100 times. They can launch atop any of several rockets of various spacefaring countries, and they possess a Launch Escape System to ensure the safety of their passengers. They use parachutes and retrorockets to return to Earth, and have soft landing engines which fire just prior to touching down on land. Water-landings are also possible. TKS vehicle/service module design resembles U.S. plans for Manned Orbital Laboratory. Excalibur plans to have multiple options for launch vehicles.

The Almaz-derived space stations are closely related to modules used on the International Space Station, and on the Soviet and Russian Salyut and Mir space stations. This is because the design of the original Almaz (Salyut 2,3, and 5) stations was used as a basis for capsules on Mir and ISS. Excalibur Almaz’s space stations will feature the largest windows ever on spacecraft. Excalibur Almaz owns two complete Almaz space station hulls, but has no plans to outfit them until substantial business experience with the reentry vehicle mounted on a service module laboratory.

I wish them the best of luck, maybe space tourism will become affordable in my lifetime!

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