The US-based company SpaceX claims it will soon become the first company to take private citizens on a leisure flight into space.
Space X has already booked two passengers for the trip in 2018, which will take them on a loop around and even skim the surface of the moon. Their deposits paid for the honour are described as, unsurprisingly, ‘significant.’
The spacecraft they’ll use will have its first unmanned test flight later this year, while the ‘private citizen’ passengers will undergo training and health and fitness tests.
“This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years,” said SpaceX founder Elon Musk in a conference call with reporters.
In the same call, he said the cost of the mission was ‘comparable’ to that of sending astronauts to the International Space Station, which is around $70m per person. Space might not fit within a backpacker budget any time soon.
Musk also acknowledged that the mission will be dangerous. “We’re doing everything we can to minimise that risk, but it’s not zero,” he said.
Space tourism isn’t quite a new idea – in 2001, billionaire Dennis Tito was flown to the International Space Station, and several others have followed. Still, if SpaceX succeeds in its mission, the final frontier may soon become a more commonplace destination.