Russia has flown just seven tourists to space since 2001, but it’s about to expand that number in the near future. The country’s space agency, Roscosmos, has signed a deal with Space Adventures to carry two “spaceflight participants” (read: tourists) to the International Space Station in late 2021. They’ll fly aboard a familiar Soyuz spacecraft for a “short duration” trip. The guests haven’t been named, although it’s safe to presume they’ll have large bank accounts.
Roscosmos wasn’t shy about the motivation to take on these tourists. It noted that these travelers were helping to fund Russia’s spaceflight industry, including future Soyuz vehicles. The publicity is almost secondary — this is as much about supporting future missions as anything else.
The 2021 launch will take place under different circumstances, though. Space tourism won’t be as novel then as it is now, with companies like Virgin Galactic aiming to take non-astronauts into space before then. This could easily be one flight among many, rather than a novelty.