SpaceX books another ride for a millionaire around the moon

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SpaceX said Wednesday it had booked another mission around the moon for a wealthy thrill seeker on its next Starship spacecraft.

Dennis Tito, an American millionaire who previously paid his way to the International Space Station in 2001and his wife, Akiko, plan to go on a lunar expedition that will last about a week, according to SpaceX.

The mission will only come after SpaceX fulfills its commitment to launch the billionaire payment processing CEO Jared Isaacman on the first commercial human spaceflight mission on Starship, a rocket and spacecraft system that is still under development at SpaceX’s facilities in South Texas. Starship is awaiting approval from federal regulators to conduct its first uncrewed orbital test flight.

SpaceX will also make its first trip around the moon to billionaire fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa, a mission announced years ago, before Tito’s trip, according to a press release.

Tito told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the only difference between his mission and Maezawa’s will be that he and his wife only bought individual seats for the mission, while Maezawa bought a flight. whole for himself and a group of artists.

“The mission is now open for ten others to sign up as well,” Tito said. He added that he doesn’t expect that flight to launch in the near future, as he hopes SpaceX will launch “hundreds” of flights – including uncrewed satellite launches – before he and his team. woman do steal.

“It was a long quest, a dream of mine that started in 1958 when I started studying aeronautics and astronautics,” Tito said. “If I can show that a man over 80 can accomplish this, hopefully it will inspire people of all ages…that this is possible.”

Akiko Tito, who calls herself an engineer, pilot and investor, added that she hopes the mission will raise awareness of new possibilities in space travel.

Dennis Tito received a master’s degree in engineering science in 1964 and later worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, before leaving for a job in the financial industry in 1972, according to his biography on the site. Encyclopedia web. British. He declined Wednesday to share financial information about the upcoming Starship mission.

Aarti Matthews, SpaceX director of Starship crew and cargo programs, said SpaceX booking private missions on Starship is part of the company’s goal to provide “airline-like” access to the world. ‘space.

Tito, who is 82, became the first person to pay for his trip to space 21 years ago when he booked a ride with a company called Space Adventures. This company booked a handful of space rides by buying seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the early 2000s.

Now, commercial space companies, including SpaceX, are looking to follow up on those early days of space tourism by selling seats on new US-made spacecraft.

However, it’s unclear when the first crewed Starship mission will lift off. This spacecraft should be the continuation of the capsule called Crew Dragon that SpaceX designed and built to transport NASA astronauts to and from the ISS. The company has already launched private clients, including Isaacmanaboard this vehicle.

But Starship is far bigger than anything SpaceX — or any other rocket developer — has ever built. It is expected to have more thrust than NASA’s Saturn V rocket, which powered the mid-20th century moon landings, and the space agency’s new moon rocket, called SLS, or Space Launch System. The company has long accused him of having the vehicle that could one day send humans to Mars for the first time, and NASA has reserved the vehicle for bring astronauts back to the lunar surface later this decade.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, however, said he plans to conduct uncrewed Starship launches and test missions – just satellites – before getting people on board.

Before that happens, the Federal Aviation Administration, which allows commercial rocket launches, must give the company its approval.

When reached by email Wednesday morning, an FAA spokesperson said only that the agency “will not determine the license until after SpaceX provides all outstanding information and the agency can analyze them fully”.

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