We’re living in an age where almost no bucket list is too ambitious. Whether you want to ski across Antarctica, take a cruise to the North Pole, or hire a private submarine to explore the Titanic, it’s all possible with enough time and money. Next year, ardent travelers may finally be able to add “space vacation” to their once-in-a-lifetime to-do lists.
This month, Axiom Space announced that sometime next year, it will launch the first-ever fully private human spaceflight with help from SpaceX. Previous suborbital flights have taken well-heeled passengers to the so-called “edge of space.” Next year’s launch will be something else entirely. One Axiom-trained commander will ferry three ordinary travelers to the International Space Station. They’ll spend two days in transit, plus at least eight full days living aboard the ISS, experiencing microgravity and out-of-this-world views that, until now, only professional astronauts have witnessed first-hand. The all-inclusive trip will include everything paying passengers need to complete the journey safely. Pre-trip training and planning, onboard medical and life support, food and provisions, certifications, and mission management are all part of the package.
Last year, NASA announced via Twitter that the International Space Station was “open for commercial business.” Unfortunately, until now, even passengers with the right discretionary income had no means of getting there. This new inaugural flight could finally usher in the era of private space travel. Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said in a statement, “This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space.” It’s part of Axiom Space’s “precursor missions” to the ISS. In partnership with NASA, the company expects to offer two fully guided, all-inclusive missions for paying passengers each year. It’s already looking to construct a privately funded and owned space station in 2024 to replace the now-20-year-old ISS.
Axiom Space’s first private space vacation is expected to take flight in late 2021. Given the nature of the whole “first time taking normal humans into space” thing, it’s safe to assume a delay or two. But, there’s no denying it will be well worth the wait. For $55 million per person, it had better be.
For those who just can’t wait (or lack the deep pockets to finance a space vacation), there might be a zero-gravity flight coming to a city near you.
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