NASA is gearing up to offer its first flights open to tourists in February 2022. Russia’s Roscosmos space agency has successfully sent four nonprofessional astronauts to the International Space Station over two missions since October.
The excursion will take place in February 2022, organized by private spaceflight company Axiom using SpaceX hardware.
NASA announced its second private mission, Axiom Mission 2 or Ax-2 will launch between fall 2022 and late spring 2023. The crew will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will dock for 14 days.
Back in 2001, Dennis Tito became the first tourist to visit the International Space Station. He paid Russia around $20 million for a round trip.
Rumor has it, one passenger, for the flight, maybe none other than Hollywood’s own Tom Cruise. NASA confirmed it was talking to the Mission Impossible star about using part of the station to shoot scenes for a movie. Russian film actress Yulia Peresild holds the honor of being the first actor to shoot a movie in space. Consequently, only time will tell if Cruise will follow in her footsteps actually take part in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On Monday, the space agency said, “NASA and its international partners will review private astronauts selections proposed by Axiom for the Ax-2 mission, as is standard for any space station crew. The proposed crew members [will] undergo NASA medical qualification testing to be approved for flight.”
NASA is revolutionizing space exploration
NASA’s ultimate goal is to commercialize low-Earth orbit by offering spaceflights to the International Space Station to private citizens.
The first mission will take place early next year hosting three civilians and one former astronaut at the space station for one week. The three lucky travelers include an investor, an entrepreneur, and a former fighter pilot. They each reportedly paid $55 million split between Axiom, SpaceX, and NASA to experience the highly sought-after adventure.
Private astronauts will continue their research and work on various service projects during their time spent at the station.
Outside of Russian actress Yulia Peresild, the Russian Space Agency also took two Japanese space tourists to the International Space Station. One of the Japanese tourists was billionaire entrepreneur Yusaka Maezawa. No one knows how Maesawa paid for the space escapade.
Some critics disagree with expanding access to the International Space Station. However, selling tickets at a premium for the experience will help finance space exploration and work surrounding the orbiting laboratory. This alleviates the burden of pushing such fees onto taxpayers while possibly leading to advancements in science and technology that will benefit the human race.
So far, there’s been lots of interest from civilians in traveling to space. Angela Hart, NASA’s manager of commercial low-Earth orbit development at Johnson Space Center suggests the International Space Station may not be able to host all of the wannabe astronauts.
“We are seeing a lot of interest in private astronaut missions,” Hart said at a news conference, adding, “At this point, the demand exceeds what we actually believe the opportunities on the station will be.”