SpaceX Plans to Send Tourists to 'Twice the Altitude' of Any Other Private Space Trip

Crew Dragon docking to the ISS
Crew Dragon docking to the ISS
Photo: NASA

SpaceX will work with space tourism company Space Adventures to send up to four people into space onboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, according to a press release.

The mission will send wealthy tourists to “twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visitor,” according to a statement by Space Adventures chairman Eric Anderson.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a crewed capsule under development that is designed to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station; today, NASA relies on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for this journey. Each trip on SpaceX’s vehicle will cost NASA $55 million per seat, which is steep but significantly cheaper than the $86 million per seat NASA pays Russia today, reports Space.com. The first crewed launch of the SpaceX capsule is scheduled for this May. Boeing is working on a rival capsule, called Starliner, which has faced various problems during uncrewed testing.

Space Adventures sells vomit comet rides, visits to the International Space Station, and other space experiences. Past trips into orbit onboard Soyuz rockets have lasted a week or more and cost tens of millions of dollars, and the company has scheduled one trip with Roscosmos to the ISS for a pair of tourists in 2021. The AFP reports that this newest trip with SpaceX will not go to the ISS.

“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,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said in a statement put out by Space Adventures.

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Or at least, it will make spaceflight possible for all who have millions of dollars to spare. The mission doesn’t have an official cost, duration, or timeline yet, but Space Adventures is already looking for takers.

If you don’t have that kind of money, there are still options for you: Zero-G flights cost just a few thousand dollars, and Virgin Galactic is supposed to begin taking tourists to space for $250,000 a piece. The only downside? Well… you eventually have to come back to Earth.

Science Writer, Founder of Birdmodo

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DISCUSSION

szielins
Stephan Zielinski

Up is easy. Along, that’s hard.

(Getting something into orbit involves getting it really high, and then accelerating it to orbital velocity, about 7.8 km/s. Coming DOWN from orbit without bouncing off the atmosphere or burning up in it is tricky, too. In contrast, a simple ballistic up then down without any attempt to achieve a stable orbit is relatively cheap and easy.)