SpaceX Announces It Will Send Space Tourists Deeper Into Orbit as Early as 2022

CC0 / / SpaceX Crew Dragon
 SpaceX Crew Dragon  - Sputnik International
SpaceX announced a new partnership with Space Adventure on Tuesday to send four tourists into deep orbit, a space mission that could take place by 2022 and cost more than $100 million.

The tourists are going to be carried by SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, which was developed to transport NASA astronauts and is due to make its first crewed flight in the coming months.

"Our goal is to try to get to about two to three times the height of the space station," Space Adventure's president Tom Shelley told AFP.

Shelly noted the exact course of the capsule would be determined by SpaceX, so it could go further than the International Space Station’s orbit, which is 400 kilometers above Earth’s surface. The capsule was designed to take astronauts from the surface to the ISS, yet Shelly said that despite little space and the lack of private space or even toilets, the duration of the mission would depend on customers’ wishes.

Shelley said that the launch of such a mission wouldn’t be cheap. The cost of launching a Falcon 9 rocket is $62 million, according to publicly available figures, indicating that the possible cost of the launch could exceed this number.

"We have a pretty good network of high net worth individuals around the world, many of whom we know are interested in spaceflight," Shelley said, adding that the flight could happen as soon as 2022. 

Unlike space tourism to the ISS, which required six months of training in Moscow, the next mission will need four weeks of training within the US. After a gap of 12 years, Space Adventures also wants to send two more tourists to the ISS on board a Russian rocket in 2021.

Space Adventure isn’t the only company involved in space tourism, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are also developing vessels to send tourists just beyond the border of space. Tickets for Virgin started at $250,000 when they first went on sale in the mid-2000s. Boeing is also developing a crew capsule called Starliner, meant to transport US astronauts to the ISS, which could also send tourists into space.

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