SpaceX news: Crew Dragon capsule to send tourists ‘two – three times the height of ISS’

SpaceX will allow tourists to buy a seat onboard their Crew Dragon spacecraft. The cuting-edge capsule was designed to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). But the trip will come at a price.

Although the cost for the space trip remains unclear, a seat is likely to be worth many tens of millions of dollars.

This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX has also yet to confirm when the tourists will be able to set off on their mission.

However, the trip will likely occur before the end of 2021 and will last five days, according to Space Adventures, the booking agent that has partnered with SpaceX to sell the seats.

The tourists will be ferried on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, a capsule due to begin transporting NASA astronauts in the coming months.

SpaceX signed the deal with the Washington-based Space Adventures, which served as an intermediary to send eight space tourists to the orbiting space laboratory via Russian Soyuz rockets.

The first of these was Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million (£15 million) for an eight hour stay on the ISS in 2001.

The last tourist to go was Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, in 2009.

Space Adventure’s president Tom Shelley said in a statement: “Our goal is to try to get to about two to three times the height of the space station.”

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The ISS orbits at 250 miles (400km) above Earth’s surface, but the exact altitude of the Space Adventures mission would be determined by SpaceX.

At its earliest, the mission could take place by late 2021, though “probably more likely is sometime in 2022,” Mr Shelley said.

The capsule was designed to take astronauts from the surface to the ISS.

Only nine square meters in volume, there are no private areas to sleep wash or use the bathroom.

Mission duration will depend on what the customers want, said Shelley.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president said: “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.”

The space tourists will not get to visit the ISS or anywhere else on their trip.

They will instead fly up in the Crew Dragon craft blasted off via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, enjoy some time in orbit, before returning to Earth.

If the mission is successful, that will allow the tourists to be at the highest altitude ever achieved for a private citizen.

This will also mean tourists will enjoy a view of Earth that has not been offered in decades

Astronauts have in recent times set off only to the relatively nearby orbit of the robing space laboratory.

Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, said: “Honouring our combined histories, this Dragon mission will be a special experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity — capable of reaching twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visitor.”

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