To Get on This SpaceX Flight, You Don’t Have to Be Rich, Just Lucky


A brand new period is opening in spaceflight, a future the place anybody — not less than anybody with tens of hundreds of thousands of — can purchase a rocket journey to see Earth from a few hundred miles up.

Jared Isaacman, a 37-year-old billionaire, introduced on Monday that he was basically chartering a rocket and spacecraft from SpaceX, the corporate began by Elon Musk, for a three- or four-day journey to area.

Scheduled to launch in October, it’s to be the primary mission to orbit the place not one of the individuals aboard is knowledgeable astronaut from NASA or one other authorities area company.

Mr. Isaacman’s announcement follows final week’s report of a non-public mission, additionally on a SpaceX vessel, to the International Space Station. Three prospects are paying $55 million every for an eight-day keep, which might happen as quickly as subsequent January.

Only United States citizens and legal permanent residents 18 or older can enter the raffle. Someone selected for the trip must be under 6 feet, 6 inches in height, weigh less than 250 pounds and pass psychological and physical tests.

“If you can go on a roller coaster ride, like an intense roller coaster ride, you should be fine for flying on Dragon,” Mr. Musk said during a news conference on Monday.

Mr. Isaacman declined to disclose how much he is paying for his private mission to space, but said, “It’s very safe to say that what we aim to raise in support of that cause is going to be far in excess of the cost of the mission.”

He said he had committed to personally donating $100 million. “If you’re going to accomplish all those great things out in space, all that progress, then you have an obligation to do some considerable good here on Earth, like making sure you conquer childhood cancer along the way,” he said.

Axiom is the first company to take advantage of the NASA accommodations. Its first customers are Larry Connor, managing partner of the Connor Group, a firm in Dayton, Ohio that owns and operates luxury apartments; Mark Pathy, chief executive of Mavrik Corporation, a Canadian investment company; and Eytan Stibbe, an investor and former Israeli Air Force pilot. The three did not know one another previously.

“I think we shared the same vision, and that vision is about doing this correctly, about conducting worthwhile research and experiments, about measuring up to the highest standards set by NASA and the astronauts,” Mr. Connor said in an interview. “So I’m pretty confident that the team will function well together.”

Mr. Connor, who will be 71 when he launches next year, is to be the second-oldest person to ever fly to space, after John Glenn who flew on the space shuttle at age 77. He said that during his time in space, he was looking to conduct some research for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

The commander of the space station trip will be an Axiom vice president, Michael López-Alegría, who is a former NASA astronaut. Another former NASA astronaut, Peggy A. Whitson, is the backup commander.

Mr. López-Alegría said Axiom originally planned to sell all four seats. “I think we began to understand fairly quickly that the demand was really to have somebody with experience be with them,” he said. “And I think that makes NASA a lot happier as well. So I happened to be the guy in the room who had been to space before.”

He expected that he would spend most of his time at the space station helping Mr. Connor, Mr. Pathy and Mr. Stibbe.

“It’s going to be, in some ways, more like a work supervisor than a cruise director,” Mr. López-Alegría said.

In an interview, Mr. Connor acknowledged that many people question the value of rich people paying millions for trips like this. “I get that people have questions,” he said. “People criticize, ‘Hey, with all the problems that are going on, why in the world are these guys spending all of this money to go into space?’”

But he replied that Kids & Community Partners, the charity arm of his company, was planning to spend $400 million over the next 10 years on programs to help children and to finance medical research. In all, he said he will eventually donate half of his net worth to charities. And about 30 percent of his wealth will go to what the company calls “key associates.”

“Only 20 percent is going to remain in my family,” Mr. Connor said. “So I guess I was just hoping that if people are going to criticize or vilify me for doing this, they’d at least have the context of what I believe.”

Mr. Musk also said that expensive trips like this were needed to bring the cost down for future space travelers. “This is an important milestone towards enabling access to space for everyone,” he said.

Space Adventures announced last year that it, too, had an agreement with SpaceX to launch a Crew Dragon to take tourists on a trip in orbit around Earth, but it has not provided more details about when that mission might take off. It has also resumed the selling of tourist trips to the space station on Russian Soyuz rockets. Two clients are scheduled to launch on a flight later this year.

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur, has also signed up for a SpaceX tourist trip, but that would be an around-the-moon voyage several years from now, on a giant rocket called Starship that is still under development.

Those who cannot afford an orbital trip will soon have cheaper options, in the price range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, for short up-and-down jaunts to the edge of space and back, where they can experience a few minutes of weightlessness.

Virgin Galactic, which was founded by Richard Branson, has already completed several crewed flights of its space plane; its next test is scheduled for the middle of the month. Blue Origin, from Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon, has launched its suborbital New Shepard capsule without people and could conduct its first test flights with passengers this year.



Source link Nytimes.com

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