A new era is opening in spaceflight, a future where anyone – anyone with at least tens of millions of dollars – can buy a rocket ride to see the Earth from a hundred miles up.
The 37-year-old billionaire, Jaird Isaacman, announced on Monday that he was essentially traveling with a rocket and spacecraft SpaceXThe company was started by Elon Musk, for a three or four day trip into space.
Decided to launch in October, it is the first mission in orbit where no one aboard is a professional astronaut from NASA or any other government space agency.
The announcement of Mr. Isakmann is as follows A private mission report last week, On a SpaceX ship, to the International Space Station. The three customers are paying $ 55 million each for an eight-day stay, which will take place next January.
“We want to work towards a Jetson-like world,” Mr. Isakmann said in an interview. He is the founder and chief executive of Shift 4 Payments, a company that sells credit-card-processing terminals and point-of-sale systems for restaurants and other businesses.
The current SpaceX crew drug capsule has four seats, and Mr. Isaacman is looking for fellow travelers who are not super rich.
He is giving two seats to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, which treats children at no charge and treats childhood cancer as well as other diseases.
One of those seats will go to a frontline health care worker in St. Jude. “Actually a former cancer survivor, who was treated and returned to St. Jude and has an employee there today,” Mr. Eyesman said.
He and hospital officials did not name the St. Jude employee on Monday.
Second seat will be Go to someone randomlyWith the goal of raising at least $ 200 million for St. Jude. You do not need to donate to enter for a chance on a space trip, but each dollar counts as 10 entries, up to 10,000 entries.
Only United States citizens and legally permanent residents 18 or older can enter the raffle. A person selected for travel must weigh 6 feet, height 6 inches, under 250 pounds and undergo a psychological and physical examination.
“If you can go on a roller coaster ride, like an intense roller coaster ride, you should be fine to fly on the dragon,” Mr Musk said during a news conference on Monday.
Mr. Isakmann declined to say how much he was paying for his personal mission in space, but said, “It is very safe to say that the purpose we aim to raise is more than the cost.” Mission is about to happen. “
He said he was personally committed to donating $ 100 million. “If you are going to accomplish all those great things in space that progress, you have an obligation to do something good here on earth, like you can conquer childhood cancer along the way.” They said.
The fourth seat in the crew draw will go to an entrepreneur in a “Shark Tank” competition run by Shift4. Entrepreneur Competition Details Posted on the Shift4 website.
The winners of the St. Jude Sweepstake and Shift 4 competition will be selected in about a month. Then crew members will be fitted for the spaceship and training will be started.
“Let’s have fun and inspire the public and get people out about the future,” Mr. Musk said.
This will not be the first time Mr. Isaacman has gone far and fast. He flies Fighter Jets for fun, and in 2012, he founded Draken International, which owns Fighter Jets and provides training for pilots in the United States Army. He periodically told the people of SpaceX that he was willing to go into space someday.
“I’ve been a SpaceX fan for a long time,” Mr. Isakmann said. “I’ve been a space enthusiast ever since I was in kindergarten.”
SpaceX developed a crew dragon for NASA to carry astronauts from the International Space Station. The first crew mission, with two NASA astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, Was launched in May last year. Second Took four astronauts there in november, And a third crew is to travel in the spring.
Mr Musk said the current plan is to ride Mr Isakman’s Resilance, a capsule that was launched in November and is currently docked at the space station.
After a successful first mission by Mr. Behenken and Mr. Hurley, Mr. Isaacman again calls to mind his SpaceX contacts. This time, “the response was back, ‘I think we’re ready for that conversation,” he said, “and things went a lot, much quicker than there.”
Mr. Isaacman intends to be more than a traveler. He will learn how to operate the spacecraft and serve as its commander.
“It’s just kind of in my DNA,” he said.
Crew Dragon, on top of the Falcon 9 rocket, will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It would orbit the Earth for several days before splashing down off the coast of Florida.
His trip will not be the only one to take private astronauts into orbit in the coming months. Powered by a mission Axiom space of houston Three people will be taken to the International Space Station. Axiom is also building a commercial module to add to the space station and In the end it aims to have its own commercial orbit.
Private citizens have traveled to the space station, but between 2000 and 2009 those trips were arranged by a space tourism company, Space Adventures, and operated by the Russian Space Agency, which is located next to professional astronauts in their Soyuz offers single seats in capsules. At the time, NASA officials disliked space station visits by wealthy tourists, but the agency began Encouraging more commercial efforts during the Trump administration.
In 2019, NASA announced new policies to encourage trade on the space station, charging visitors $ 35,000 per night to cover the cost of living there, facilities like water, air, an Internet connection, and toilets Is included.
Axiom NASA is the first company to benefit from housing. Its first customers are Larry Conor, managing partner of the Conner Group, a firm in Dayton, Ohio, that owns and operates luxury apartments; Mark Pathy, chief executive of Mavric Corporation, a Canadian investment company; And Ayton Stibbe, an investor and former Israeli Air Force pilot. The three did not already know each other.
Mr. Conor said in an interview, “I think we shared the same vision, and it’s about doing it correctly, about conducting meaningful research and experiments, the highest set by NASA and astronauts About measuring standards. ” “So I am confident that the team will work well together.”
Mr. Conor, who will turn 71 when he launches next year, is the second oldest person to fly in a spacecraft after John Glenn at age 77. He said that during his time in space, he wanted to do some research for the Mayo Clinic of Minnesota and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
The commander of the space station trip will be an Assiom vice president, Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut. one more Former NASA astronaut, Peggy A. Whitson, Is the backup commander.
Mr. Lopez-Alegria said that Exome originally planned to sell all four seats. “I think we started to understand fairly quickly that the demand really should be with someone with experience,” he said. “And I think NASA is very happy as well. So I became the man of the room who had gone into space before. “
He was expected to spend most of his time at the space station helping Mr. Conner, Mr. Pathie and Mr. Staby.
“Happening is, in some ways, more like a supervisor than a cruise director,” Mr. Lopez-Alegria said.
In an interview, Mr. Connor admitted that many people question the value of wealthy people paying millions for such trips. “I think people have questions,” he said. “People criticize, ‘Hey, with all the problems going on in the world, why are these people spending all this money to go into space?”
But he responded that his company’s charity Arm Kids and Community Partners was planning to spend $ 400 million over the next 10 years on programs to help children and do medical research. Overall, he said he would donate half of his net worth. And about 30 percent of its funds will go to the company that the company calls “key affiliates”.
“Only 20 percent is going to live in my family,” Mr. Connor said. “So I think I was just hoping that if people were going to criticize or captivate me for doing this, they would have to do what I believe, at least in my context.”
Mr Musk also said that such costly trips were needed to bring down the cost for future astronauts. “This is an important milestone towards enabling access to space for all,” he said.
Space Adventures announced last year that it, too, was to launch a crew Drew with SpaceX to take tourists on a journey into Earth orbit, but it has more about it No information has been given as to when the mission can fly. It has also resumed the sale of tourist trips to the space station on Russian Soyuz rockets. Two customers are scheduled to launch on a flight later this year.
Yusaku Mezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur, has also signed up for the SpaceX Tourist Trip, but it will happen Travel around a moon Several years from now, on a giant rocket, called the Starship, which is still under development.
Those who cannot afford an orbital trip will soon have a cheaper option, in the price range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, for short-and-down joints up to the edge of the space and back, where they experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Can.
Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson, Has already completed several crew flights of its space aircraft; Its next trial is scheduled in the middle of the month. Jeffrey P. of Blue Origin, Amazon. From Bezos, Has launched its suborbital New Shepard capsule without people and could conduct its first test flight with passengers this year.