SpaceX aims to launch up to 4 tourists into super high orbit

1 / 2
This undated photo made available by SpaceX in February 2020 shows the Crew Dragon spacecraft undergoing acoustic testing in Florida. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, SpaceX announced it is working with Space Adventures Inc. to take tourists into a high orbit. (SpaceX via AP)
2 / 2
In this file photo taken on March 1, 2019 The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the unmanned Crew Dragon capsule on its nose sits at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 February 2020

SpaceX aims to launch up to 4 tourists into super high orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL: SpaceX aims to launch up to four tourists into a super high orbit, possibly by the end of next year.
The private company is working with Space Adventures Inc. for the flight, officials announced Tuesday. Ticket prices are not being divulged but expected to be in the millions.
Space Adventures already has helped put tourists into orbit with trips to the International Space Station, working with the Russian space program.
For this trip, paying customers will skip the space station and instead orbit two to three times higher, or roughly 500 miles to 750 miles (800 kilometers to 1,200 kilometers) above Earth.
It’s a lofty goal that would approach the record 850-mile-high (1,370 kilometers) orbit achieved by Gemini 11’s Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon in 1966.
The tourist flight “will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.
Elon Musk’s California-based SpaceX already is dabbling in space tourism, signing on a Japanese billionaire to fly to the moon in three or so years. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic also plan tourist trips to space, but these will be brief up-and-downs, not orbital.
SpaceX will use the same kind of Dragon capsule that will launch NASA astronauts to the space station, possibly in another few months. The capsule has flown only once in space so far, making its debut last year in a successful test flight without a crew.
Space Adventures spokeswoman Stacey Tearne said the tourist flight could occur in the last quarter of 2021. The company is in discussions with “several potential clients.”
No professional pilot or astronaut will be required, Tearne said, because the Dragon is fully autonomous. But passengers will be able to control the spacecraft if required, she said in an email.
The cost will be in line with previous tourist flights, she said. Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil, paid $35 million for a 1 1/2-week space station flight in 2009. He said from orbit that it was “worth every penny and more.”
Like all previous space tourists, he launched on a Russian rocket from Kazakhstan.
This private Dragon flight from Cape Canaveral will be shorter, lasting up to five days, according to Tearne.
Based in Vienna, Virginia, Space Adventures helped arrange the flight of the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito, founder and chairman of Wilshire Associates in California. He flew to the space station on a Russian capsule in 2001, igniting the wrath of top NASA officials who opposed visiting tourists.
The company has arranged eight space missions, with one tourist going twice.
Space Adventures’ goal is to create “unique and previously impossible opportunities for private citizens to experience space,” Eric Anderson, company chairman, said in a statement.
NASA has softened its stance on space tourists, and is opening the station doors to paying customers once commercial crew flights by SpaceX and Boeing have been established.


Russians face up to five years’ jail for spreading false coronavirus news

Updated 3 min 16 sec ago

Russians face up to five years’ jail for spreading false coronavirus news

  • Proposals are part of a package of draft legislation that also aims to impose tough punishment for people breaking quarantine ruless
  • be higher. Moscow, with its more than 12 million people, went into lockdown on Monday

MOSCOW: Russian lawmakers were set on Tuesday to consider legislation imposing severe punishment — including up to five years in prison — for people convicted of spreading false information about the coronavirus.
If a person were found guilty of inadvertently causing a person’s death or other grave consequences by spreading “intentionally false” information about life-threatening circumstances, he would face a fine of up to 2 million rubles ($25,000) or up to five years in prison.
The proposals also foresee punishment — including a fine of up to 1.5 million rubles and up to three years in prison — for harming a person’s health through spreading false information.
The proposals are part of a package of draft legislation that also aims to impose tough punishment — including up to seven years in prison — for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules.
The amendments to Russia’s Criminal Code were proposed by Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house State Duma, and another senior lawmaker of the governing United Russia party, Pavel Krasheninnikov, so are expected to pass swiftly.
Russia, which has a population of 144 million people, has so far reported 1,836 coronavirus cases and nine fatalities but the real number of the infected is believed to be higher.
Moscow, with its more than 12 million people, went into lockdown on Monday and more than a dozen regions moved to introduce similar steps to curb the coronavirus outbreak.