Excalibur Almaz has bought four second-hand space capsules and two disused space stations from Russia, the Soviet-era equipment having undergone a refit at the company’s headquarters in the Isle of Man.

An unlikely frontier for space exploration, surprisingly, analysts have listed the Isle of Man as the fifth most likely place, behind Russia, the US, India and China, to man the first mission to the moon.

Space companies are lured there by zero tax for space projects and an income tax of just 10 per cent. The Isle of Man is home to more than half of the world’s Satellite companies.

Art Dula, EA chief executive, said the scheme was not “space tourism”, and insisted that passengers would undergo rigorous training in how to control the spacecraft.

 “This is a private expedition, it’s not tourism. It’s like the expeditions to the South Seas years ago that made Britain so rich.”

 The company will use a smaller spacecraft to take amateur space travellers to one of the company’s recycled space stations in the low earth orbit.

From there the station and its inhabitants will blast into the moon’s orbit, taking them 234,000 miles from Earth.

Excalibur says the first trip could be less than four years away, and claims the second-hand space ships have the potential to become a billion-dollar business.