Space Adventures isn’t a young company: established in 1998, the space tourism company has since brought seven private clients to the International Space Station (ISS), including Cirque Du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte.
Though they’ve made other plans, such as a lunar mission aboard a Russian spacecraft, the company announced its agreement on Feb 18 with Space X – a veritable industry giant at this point – to send a crew of four intrepid clients to space aboard a Space X craft.
Space X made history when its Falcon 9 reusable rocket system proved that rockets didn’t have to be single-use, saving potential billions of dollars in the future.
Though there have been a few mishaps, like missing the landing platform a couple of days ago, the system has shown that Space X is more than a maverick billionaire’s side project. 80 successful launches – though unmanned thus far – don’t happen by chance.
That’s where the Crew Dragon capsule comes in. Space X was the first non-governmental organisation to launch cargo into orbit – now, it wants to be the first to send people too.
The Crew Dragon has run the gauntlet to ensure its viability in recent years, including a successful escape system test just last month.
Those aboard the historic flight will also break the private citizen spaceflight altitude record – surpassing the ISS to orbit at 420 kilometers above Earth – which humans haven’t ventured to since the 60s’ Gemini and Apollo mission.
Although the craft is fully autonomous (controlled from the ground by Space X), Chairman of Space Adventures Eric Anderson tweeted that a group of three or less clients could opt for a professional space commander.
The mission will last up to a total of five days, and naturally, those who sign up will have to undergo training – but way less than what previous Space Adventures customers went through.
There have been no plans as yet for any space-walks – and since luxury resorts aren’t really a thing yet above the stratosphere, be prepared to chow like an astronaut.
Ticket prices have not been officially released, but Anderson revealed that it would be notably less than US$52 million (S$72.7 million), the price tag of a Bigelow Space Operations x Space X flight announced last year.
Okay, we’ll admit: it does sound like the plot of Fantastic Four. We’re not sure of the Crew Dragon’s insulation against cosmic radiation, but superpowers are a pretty benign consequence for a breathtaking view that few can ever claim to witness firsthand.
Read more about the collaboration between Space Adventures and Space X here.