Space tourism a reality: Excalibur Almaz spacecraft pictures and hands-on

Space has been a theme that's enthralled so many for decades - from sci-fi TV shows, to the  US Moon landing, and more recently tests of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic "glider" that’s due to send paying customers into space in by 2015.

Now there's another British company in on the action. Excalibur Almaz, based on the Isle of Man, has announced details of its plans not only to launch private “tours” into space, but also to operate the first Moon missions since that of Apollo 17 in 1972.

Sounds like fun, right? Well you'll need to boldly go into your wallet if you want to be part of this trip. That asterisk in the sell is quite important: you’ll need around £100 million. Yup, one hundred million pounds Sterling. Gulp!

Excalibur Almaz had one of its space capsules on show in London and Pocket-lint was on hand to take a look. Claustrophobes need not apply; the three-man capsule, as our pictures show, is small, and the outward journey to space takes an epic 34 hours.

But then would-be astronauts are subject to strict training and one of the seats will need to be manned by an experienced cosmonaut.

We chatted to Colonel Valerie Tokarev - a Russian cosmonaut who has spent some 200 days in space, including manning the International Space Station - about the experience of launching into space.

“The journey’s not so easy, but there’s no gravity so it’s not uncomfortable,” he says.

And does he feel safe?

“It’s about discipline; you should always be ready and do as your commanders say” he says, adding: “Everyone has to remember: space is aggressive; it’s not our mother ... risk is calculated until it’s acceptable to fly.”

Would-be tourists will be given “jobs” to ensure they’re assisting with the mission. It’s hardly a wind-down trip to sunny Spain, instead you'll need to prepare hard for the privilege. Indeed the sky is no longer the limit.

To emphasise the company’s readiness to launch as early as 2015, Excalibur Almaz is exhibiting one of its spacecraft at Space Base London, a one-off event at the London Queen Elizabeth II Exhibition Centre from June 20-22, 2012.

Pop along and take a look – it’ll cost you a whole lot less than the prospective space mission as (re)entry is free.

If you could afford it would you fancy a trip into the big, black unknown? Or is Spain's south coast more up your street?