Brevard County

New agreement could soon take private citizens to new heights via SpaceX rocket

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A space tourism company has announced an agreement to put private citizens on a SpaceX rocket, but it might still be too soon to grab for your checkbook.

The agreement would allow citizens to board a Crew Dragon rocket on a mission to break the world altitude record for private-citizen spaceflight, and see planet Earth the way nobody has since the Gemini program.

As early as this spring, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will lift off on its first manned flight test to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s commercial crew program.

The company already has an agreement with Space Adventures to fly private citizens on the Crew Dragon’s first “free-flyer mission.”

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Those missions can fly up to four people, and provide them with the opportunity to reach twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut.

But, safety comes first.

“The first thing they have to do, however, is prove that it’s safe for the NASA astronauts. That’s the key,” said Dr. Ken Kremer with Space UpClose

Space Adventures, which is based in the Washington, D.C., metro area, said it’s already working to secure interested parties. The mission would be the first orbital space tourism experience provided entirely with American technology.

The cost of the flight isn’t being disclosed, but Space Adventures said it would be in the same price range as other orbital spaceflight opportunities.

So, it’s not cheap.

“We can make a good guess as to what the cost will be. The cost to NASA is roughly $50 million. (The head of Space Adventures) said in a tweet probably a little bit less than that because, when you’re selling four, you can get them at a discount," Kremer said with a laugh.

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Sara Shell, with Space Florida, said launching astronauts from U.S. soil will provide a tourism boost to the Space Coast. Launching citizen astronauts could do the same.

“I think it really demonstrates the evolution of the commercial program,” Shell said. “It’s like anything else, supply and demand. So, the more people they get, the more affordable it will be, eventually, for you and I to travel to space.”

Space Adventures on Wednesday announced another agreement to fly tourists aboard a Soyuz to the ISS. That flight is scheduled to launch in late 2021.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.