World’s first space tourist plans another flight to the Moon with SpaceX
Washington (AFP) – Dennis Tito, an American entrepreneur who in 2001 became the first person to pay for his own space travel, said Wednesday he plans to fly with his wife Akiko on a future SpaceX mission around the moon.
The trip will take place after Elon Musk’s company completes development of its prototype Starship rocket and conducts a first commercial flight that will include Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
“Since my first manned spaceflight, I have continued to be passionate about space and the possibilities it has for all of humanity, which led me to this mission,” Tito, 82, told reporters. reporters on a call Wednesday.
The week-long mission would see Starship fly less than 125 miles from the lunar surface before returning home.
Tito did not reveal how much he and Akiko paid for their tickets, but said ten more seats remained open for others to register.
Maezawa, on the other hand, has chartered all the seats for its mission called “dearMoon”, which is expected to fly no earlier than 2023 but likely much later.
In 2001, Tito paid $20 million to fly on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station, heralding the era of space tourism.
An aeronautical and astronautical engineer by training, Tito worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1960s, before founding the investment management firm Wilshire Associates in 1972.
Akiko, a Japanese-born systems engineer who later joined the financial industry and moved to New York in 1995, added, “I want people to know they can do whatever they want.
“It’s never too late, no matter your age, race or gender.”
It’s unclear when SpaceX will begin commercial missions with Starship – a giant rocket that the company hopes to one day use to colonize Mars.
Musk has promised the rocket will complete its first orbital test this year, and a Starship version has already been selected to be used as a lander for NASA’s Artemis missions to return humans to the Moon.
Aarti Matthews, Starship’s director of crew and cargo, said SpaceX sees commercial missions as a step toward air-like space operations.
© 2022 AFP