MOSCOW, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russia is developing a "space yacht" that is able to take off from ordinary airfields like an aircraft to send tourists to near-Earth orbit, a chief designer of NPO Aviation and Space Technologies told Sputnik news agency.
A number of private companies are working on the unmanned spacecraft dubbed Selena Space Yacht with the support of the National Technology Initiative's (NTI) AeroNet and SpaceNet working groups, designer Alexander Begak said in an interview.
"We have an opportunity to land on any airfield, the device lands like an airplane ... We now calculate the optimal time for space travel, a comfortable flight path, because experience shows that people do not need to be in zero-gravity condition for as long as 10 minutes," Begak said, adding that the development of the spacecraft began two years ago.
Three "space yachts" will be produced, with six passenger seats and one pilot seat each. Though the spacecraft will be unmanned, the pilot will be present for the convenience of passengers, Begak said.
The cost of the flight will be about 200,000-300,000 U.S. dollars per person.
Begak said that the first flights may start in five years.