Elon Musk’s company SpaceX has signed a deal to send three tourists to the International Space Station as early as next year.
Unfortunately, the trip is likely to cost a smidge more than your average weekend away, so don’t go getting too excited about your potential 2021 summer holiday.
SpaceX announced the news on Thursday, March 5, revealing it has signed a deal with startup Axiom Space, which plans to take tourists, private researchers, astronauts from foreign countries and other individuals to the International Space Station (ISS).
The trip would mark the first time in history a US spacecraft is used to take tourists to the ISS. Though tourists have flown to the ISS before, Axiom says this will be ‘the first-ever fully private’ trip to the space station.
The lucky, probably very wealthy tourists will travel on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, a fully-autonomous capsule which measures about 13-feet across, alongside a trained flight commander.
Crew Dragon will link up with the space station and the passengers will be allowed to spend at least eight days there before returning to Earth in a mission which is set to launch as soon as the second half of 2021.
Falcon 9 launches the final mission of the first version of Dragon pic.twitter.com/qkwCxb49OA
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 7, 2020
Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini, who served as manager of NASA’s International Space Station program from 2005 to 2015, spoke about the exciting venture in a statement, saying:
This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space.
This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space – a first for a commercial entity.
Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal, and we’re glad to be working with SpaceX in this effort.
Building the International Space Station’s successor.
Booking a Crew Dragon mission with @SpaceX for our first flight – the first fully private flight to ISS in history.
— Axiom Space (@Axiom_Space) March 5, 2020
Axiom has not shared information about how much the trip may cost, but previous tourism missions to the ISS have cost passengers tens of millions of dollars, CNN reports.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer, commented:
SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time.
Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration.
Before the trip can go ahead, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon needs to be certified for human spaceflight and prove it can serve its intended purpose, which is to take NASA astronauts to and from the space station.
Last year, NASA said it would allow up to two trips to the ISS per year for non-government astronauts.
In an email to CNN, a NASA spokesperson said Axiom’s tourism plan is in line with its ‘broad strategy to facilitate the commercialization’ of space, though the agency’s priority is to get Crew Dragon ready to fly its own astronauts.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.