It’s happening! Imagine being able to fly into space without the rigorous training of becoming an astronaut. You just need millions of dollars to get a ride though. Oh, and if you do have millions lying around, you will probably have to find three other friends with the same fat bank account.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to fly four privately-paying space tourists to orbit in its Crew Dragon capsule. The paying customers will be brokered through Space Adventures, a company that has flown private citizens to the International Space Station using Russian spacecraft.
Potential Space Tourists Must Be This Tall To Ride
Traveling in the Crew Dragon capsule, Space Adventures said the mission would last five days and is expected to launch between “late-2021 to mid-2022.” The launch will take place from Florida’s Cape Canaveral spaceport.
“The 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,” SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement released by Space Adventures.
In the agreement, Space Adventures will use a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon capsule to fly up to four passengers to Earth’s orbit. The outlined trip will not make a stop at the International Space Station. Instead, the capsule will remain in orbit as a free-flying spacecraft.
“This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program,” Space Adventures representatives proclaimed in the statement.
Space Adventures founder Eric Anderson added that this mission will attempt to reach two to three times the altitude of the International Space Station, which orbits at an altitude of about 250 miles up.
“Honoring our combined histories, this Dragon mission will be a special experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity – capable of reaching twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visitor,” Anderson added.
Tickets Could Be Less Than $50 Million USD
The question on everyone’s mind is the cost. How much will it cost for a private citizen to fly along in space?
To answer that question, you have to look at some of the past Space Adventures’ trips To date, Space Adventures has launched eight orbital trips to the International Space Station for seven wealthy customers. Those customers include American entrepreneurs Greg Olsen in 2005 and Anousheh Ansari in 2006, Dennis Tito in 2001, South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, Microsoft co-founder Charles Simonyi (twice) in 2007 and 2009, computer game developer Richard Garriott in 2008, and Cirque du Soleil Guy Laliberte in 2009.
Now, those spaceflights all cost tens of millions of dollars, including Lailberte’s flight costing him a reported $35 million for his eleven-day trip.
SpaceX or Space Adventures did not announce exact pricing for the Crew Dragon tourist flights, but the cost per seat is expected to be in the same range of other commercial spaceflight trips.
Anderson did hint on Twitter that the price per seat could be less than $50 million. Responding to a question on Twitter from a random user about the possible price tag, Anderson tweeted back: “Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client-specific requests, etc.”
A test flight with two NASA astronauts on-board could take off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as early as May 7. Docking with the space station would take place hours later, marking the first spaceflight into orbit from United States soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.
This is great news that private citizens can ride in space without becoming an astronaut, but it leaves out us folk that doesn’t have $50 million laying around. Will space travel ever become accessible for the general public that doesn’t have millions in the bank?
Until then, dream on 99% of America. And keep looking towards the sky.