Space Adventures Rising

They’ve brokered the flights of seven privately-funded people to space, but after the Russians said, “No more tourists”, they haven’t flown anyone for over ten years. However, it looks like that hiatus might end next year.

SpaceX has said that they intend to send NASA astronauts on their first dragon ride to the International Space Station this spring. After that Dragon, and its Falcon 9 launcher will be human-certified and ready for regular flights anywhere in orbit for anybody. Space Adventures announced ealiter this week that they’ve made a deal to buy one such flight for their customers. This ain’t no sub-orbital hop like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are about to start doing either, these folks will spend up to 5 days in orbit after a few weeks of training. They won’t go to the ISS, but they will fly to 1,000 km altitude…a higher orbit than the ISS…for a fantastic view of Earth.

Our planet from 1000 km orbit — Orbiter 2016 Space Flight Simulator (free download)

So, space Adventures gets to have a launch platform again and SpaceX gets help with proof of concept for space tourism and a chance to further deepen their crewed spaceflight launch history in preparation for their planned and future Lunar and Mars launches. We (well, “we” meaning those of us who can swing the tens of millions per seat that this is likely to cost…which isn’t “me” we) get that much closer to an actual chance to toss our actual cookies in actual orbit. Group win!

No one knows for sure where this will lead or if it will even fly on Dragon. In redesigning the Dragon for parachute splash downs instead of propulsive landings, they had to re-angle the seating for the increased loads on the human body…which also dramatically reduced the number of seats and with that the future profitability of the Dragon Capsule as a routine space tourism vehicle. History suggests that this plan could change or even go away. We’ll see.

No room in the Dragon capsule for this…but maybe someday!

We all knew this sort of thing was coming and we’ve watched for it. Some of us have watched, waited, dreamed, and even written about it for half a century. This might not be a total one-off for Dragon and it definitely won’t be for SpaceX. They already have a moon-flyby planned for their new and ginormous Starship currently under construction in Texas (which is inching ever closer to its full assembly and first flight). I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they have much longer Earth-orbit flights in store for that spacecraft in between now and the the Moon as they run it through its paces and build a flight history for it.

~ by Bill Housley on February 21, 2020.

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