To the Chagrin of Rich Geeks Everywhere, Russians Killing Space Tourism Program

Richard Garriot and other well-to-do nerds will no longer be able to play spaceman, now that Russia's canceling its astrotourism program to make way for three real astronauts at the International Space Station.

Russian Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told reporters that ex-Microsoft man Charles Simonyi will be the last private space passenger. He'll be blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in March.

He said they were canceling the lucrative tourism program in order to expand the space station crew to six. That way Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts can finally live aboard the project their countries helped create. Scientific research will also be boosted from an average of 10 hours a week to 35.

Luckily, even if the Russians won't do it anymore, private enterprises are ramping up to make sure rich people will always get to live out their childhood dreams. Anyone care for a spin on Virgin Galactic? [MSNBC via Slashdot]