Is the end near for Soyuz tourist flights?

AFP reported yesterday that Roskosmos head Anatoly Perminov suggested the end was near for tourist flights to the ISS on regular Soyuz taxi flights there. According to Perminov, the planned increase in the ISS crew size from three to six—expected by the end of the decade, when ISS assembly is complete—will leave no room on Soyuz taxi flights to the station for tourists. “I’m afraid that from 2009, tourism as we see it today may be discontinued,” Perminov said, according to the report.

Perminov did indicate that there is strong demand for such flights, enough that “we cannot satisfy all requests”. However, the article doesn’t address the possibility that additional Soyuz spacecraft could be manufactured, perhaps for dedicated tourist flights to the ISS (not to mention plans for circumlunar tourist flights). Space Adventures has reportedly been looking at what’s needed to increase the Soyuz production rate, so this report may be a little premature.

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