This company couldn't find paying billionaires for trip to space
Were you praying you would witness the day no billionaire wanted to pay for a trip to space? Well, that day is here. One of the pioneers of space tourism, Space Adventures, announced that its launch reservation with SpaceX has expired because it could not find viable interest in space tourism from the very few who can afford it. Here are more details.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Program proved privatization of space was the way ahead. The natural progression was to pursue recreational space tourism. So, SpaceX flew Jared Isaacman and crew on the first all-civilian spaceflight earlier. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson also flew to space on independent missions, building hype surrounding billionaires' lust for space travel.
Ecological concerns notwithstanding, Isaacman's spaceflight was estimated to cost each co-passenger $200 million. Now, Space Adventures appears to have failed at finding people willing to part with so much money for a similar flight in a Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by SpaceX. The company's president Tom Shelley told Agence France-Presse that plans for this mission had been shelved.
In February last year, Space Adventures announced it had inked a contract with SpaceX for a Crew Dragon mission planned for late 2021 to mid-2022. The mission intended to take four flyers to an orbital altitude twice as high as the International Space Station (ISS) and stay there for five days before returning to Earth. But, few updates were provided before the cancelation announcement.
Space Adventures spokesperson Stacey Tearne told SpaceNews, "The mission was marketed to a large number of our prospective customers, but ultimately the mix of price, timing, and experience wasn't right at that particular time and our contract with SpaceX expired." "We hope to revisit the offering in the future," she added. Interestingly, this isn't the company's first attempt to fly paying space tourists.
Starting as far back as 2001, Space Adventures flew several astronauts to the ISS using open seats on Soyuz missions. The company's last complete commercial spaceflight took place in 2009 since Soyuz seats were dedicated to crew rotations. That said, the company has not lost all hope. It expressed interest in revisiting plans for this mission at the opportune time.
Another Space Adventures mission, however, remains on schedule for its December 8 launch date. In May, the firm announced plans to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, his assistant Yozo Hirano, and astronaut Alexander Misurkin on a 12-day trip to the ISS aboard a dedicated Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft. Presently, these travelers are training for spaceflight at facilities in Russia.