By Leah Crane
SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the companys Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX is planning to send three tourists to the International Space Station (ISS) next year. The trip is part of a partnership with the Houston-based start-up Axiom Space.
Private citizens have flown to the ISS before, but they have all launched in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This trip, which will use a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, will be the first launch of private citizens aboard a private spacecraft to the ISS.
This follows NASAs announcement last year that it would be opening up the ISS to more commercial activities. This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space, Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement. Tickets for the 10-day trip will reportedly cost about $55 million.
SpaceX has made several announcements about space tourism in the past few years in 2017, the company announced plans to send tourists around the moon, and this February it announced a deal with another space flight startup to fly customers into orbit around Earth.
None of these flights have taken place yet. In fact, the Crew Dragon capsule, which SpaceX is developing to shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the ISS, has not yet flown with a crew. Its first crewed launch is currently scheduled for May 2020.
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By Leah Crane