Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX is scheduled to fly two NASA Astronauts for the first time towards the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft in spring this year, around May 7th. Dragon has been in development under a NASA Commercial Crew contract that aims to end Russian spacecraft dependency and initiate a new era where astronauts are launched from American soil. In 2019 during an uncrewed mission, Dragon demonstrated capability to autonomously pilot itself through space, even became the first spacecraft in history to dock autonomously to the station's robotic arm. In January this year, the craft demonstrated that its launch escape system is capable of saving astronauts lives during the unlikely event of a rocket failure.
Space Adventures, a United States space tourism agency that has helped 7 private citizens take trips to and from the space station aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket and spacecraft, announced today (February 18) they have signed a deal with SpaceX to launch 4 passengers into an Earth orbit tour aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.The space tourism mission would last up to 5 days and could launch by the end of 2021.
Building on the success of Crew Dragon’s 1st demo mission to the ISS in March 2019 & the recent successful test of the spacecraft’s launch escape system, Space Adventures has entered into an agreement with @SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Dragon free-flyer mission.— Space Adventures (@SpaceAdventures) February 18, 2020
Space Adventures representatives stated they will contract SpaceX's services to launch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon to space but the trip will not visit the International Space Station. During the mission, Dragon will remain in orbit cruising around Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles to 850 miles above Earth, that is two to three times the 250 mile height of the space station -the highest altitude that any private citizen in history has ever been to!
Space Adventures representatives said:
"This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program."
Sept 14, 1966 - View From Gemini XI, 850 Miles Above the Earth. / Source: NASA
Referring to the record 850-mile-high orbit achieved by Gemini 11’s Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon in 1966. "Honoring 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," said Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures. Anderson also added that he chose SpaceX because "Since its maiden mission in 2010, no engineering achievement has consistently impressed the industry more than the SpaceX Dragon/Falcon 9 reusable system."
The SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement from Space Adventures:
"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."
Space Adventures also stated that the price of the mission will not be disclosed. However, previous Space Adventures space tours run around $30 million per seat, so, the price for a space tour aboard Crew Dragon is expected to be around the 'millions' range.
WATCH CREW DRAGON'S DEMO-1 MISSION!