SpaceX books another trip for a millionaire around the moon

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SpaceX said Wednesday that it has booked another mission around the moon for a rich thrill-seeker on its upcoming Starship spacecraft.

Dennis Tito, an American millionaire who previously paid for his trip 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 come only after SpaceX delivers on its commitment to launch a multibillion-dollar payment processing CEO. jared isaacman in the first commercial manned spaceflight mission on Starship, a rocket and spacecraft system still under development at SpaceX’s facility in South Texas. Starship is awaiting approval from federal regulators to conduct its first uncrewed orbital test flight.

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

Tito said during a news 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 on the mission, while Maezawa bought a full flight for himself and a group of artists.

“The mission is now open for 10 others to sign up too,” Tito said. He added that he doesn’t expect this flight to launch any time soon, as he expects SpaceX to launch “hundreds” of flights, including uncrewed satellite launches, before he and his wife fly.

“This was a long search, a dream of mine that started in 1958 when I started studying aeronautics and astronautics,” said Tito. “If I can show that a man over 80 years old can do this, hopefully that will inspire people of any age… that this is possible.”

Akiko Tito, who said she is an engineer, pilot and investor, added that she hopes this mission will raise awareness of the new possibilities that arise in space flight travel.

Dennis Tito earned a master’s degree in engineering science in 1964 and then worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, before going to work in the financial industry in 1972, according to his biography on the NASA website. the encyclopedia. british. He declined Wednesday to share any financial information about the upcoming Starship mission.

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

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

Now, commercial space companies, including SpaceX, are looking to carry on those early days of space tourism by selling seats aboard newly developed, US-made spacecraft.

However, it’s unclear when Starship’s first manned mission will take off. That spacecraft is expected to be a follow-up to the Crew Dragon capsule that SpaceX designed and built to carry NASA astronauts to and from the ISS. The company has already launched private clients, including isaacmanaboard that vehicle.

But Starship is much 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 billed you for a long time as if you had the vehicle that could one day put humans on Mars for the first time, and NASA has reserved the vehicle for return astronauts to the lunar surface later this decade.

However, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he plans to carry out test launches and uncrewed Starship missions, just satellites, before putting people on board.

Before that can happen, the company must be given approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, which authorizes commercial rocket launches.

Reached by email Wednesday morning, an FAA spokesperson said only that the agency “will make a licensing determination only after all outstanding information is provided by SpaceX and is able to be fully analyzed by the agency.”

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