Looking for an out-of-this-world vacation spot? Space Adventures will send you into orbit—if you can pay.
SpaceX (of Elon Musk fame) is partnering with Virginia-based Space Adventures to finally make space tourism a thing. Many companies have promised trips to the moon or a condo on Mars, but this new partnership is churning up a lot of excitement—Space Adventure's site crashed briefly following the announcement this week from the clamoring influx of space enthusiasts.
The trip will see four members of the public sent into orbit for five days inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, fueled by the Falcon 9 rocket. The flight won't stop at the International Space Station like most space-tourist trips might. It will fly twice as high as the ISS instead, about as high as the Gemini went, breaking the world altitude record for a private citizen. The flight is expected to happen before the end of 2021, though it has no exact date. Ticket prices haven't been announced, but it's speculated to cost somewhere between a flight out of Baltimore and buying a new private jet. In the "tens of millions of dollars" ballpark.
A match made for the heavens?
The partnership between SpaceX and Space Adventures looks promising. SpaceX continues to build its resume—after NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, they turned to SpaceX and Boeing to get U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX's Crew Dragon completed its first unmanned mission to the ISS last year.
And since 2001, Space Adventures has taken eight trips of seven passengers on board the Russian Soyuz rocket to the ISS and proven themselves a frontrunner in space tourism.
A star-strewn future for tourists
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell was optimistic in her statement:
“This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it, and we are pleased to work with the Space Adventures’ team on the mission."
It's not just SpaceX and Space Adventures pushing for a future full of commercial spaceflight. They'll be competing chiefly with Virgin Galactic—and investors are clearly excited about space tourism. And if this 2021 flight happens, they'll have a broader view of the earth than humans have had in decades—twice as far from the space station that has been the focus.
What do you think about space tourism? If you had a spare $20 million, would you buy a ticket? What should the focus of future space exploration be?
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