The first space traveller in history wants to return, but he has booked a trip on Elon Musk’s Starship to orbit the moon this time.
Now that he is retired and has time on his hands, Dennis Tito, 82, has the opportunity to experience the excitement of his mission to the International Space Station. He has no interest in going back to what he did 21 years ago or taking a 10-minute flight to the edge of space. I’ve been there and done that.
He will be 200 kilometres from the lunar far side after his week-long moonshot, which will take place at a future date. His wife Akiko and ten other people who are willing to pay a significant sum of money for the ride will be with him.
Although Tito won’t disclose his payment amount, his flight to the Russian station cost $20 million.
The couple understood that Starship, a sleek, bullet-shaped monster that hasn’t yet made an effort to enter space, still had a lot of testing and development to go.
This week, Tito told The Associated Press in an interview, “We have to keep fit for as many years as it’s going to take for SpaceX to construct this vehicle.” If not for this goal, “I might be rocking in my chair, not getting any useful exercise.”
Actually, Tito is the second billionaire to reserve a Starship for a trip around the moon. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion mogul, declared in 2018 that he was purchasing a whole aeroplane so that he could bring about eight other people—preferably artists—with him. Despite being 20 years apart, the two men used Russian rockets to travel from Kazakhstan to the space station.
As the first person to pay for his own first space travel in 2001, Tito started the space tourism industry, upsetting NASA in the process. The American space agency did not want a tourist to be present while the space station was being constructed. However, the Russian Space Agency was in need of the money and, with the aid of the American company Space Adventures, flew a number of wealthy passengers to the station throughout the 2000s, most recently Maezawa a year ago
Starship has not yet taken off from the southernmost point of Texas, close to the Mexican border, on top of a Super Heavy booster. It is the largest and most potent rocket ever built, measuring 120 metres and producing 7.7 million kilos of liftoff thrust. For the first lunar touchdown since Apollo, NASA has already contracted with a Starship to deliver its humans to the moon in 2025 or thereabouts.
Tito claimed that an option for a flight within five years is included in the couple’s contract with SpaceX, which was signed in August 2021 and made public on Wednesday. By that time, Tito would be 87, and he needed a way out in case his health declined.
But he added, “If I continued in good health, I’d wait 10 years.”
Tito’s wife, 57, claimed she didn’t require any persuasion. Both pilots and those who live in Los Angeles are aware of the risks. They agree with Musk’s predictions for a space-faring future and think that a married pair travelling to the moon together will encourage others to follow suit.
Tito, who almost two years ago sold his investing firm Wilshire Associates, claimed he doesn’t feel bad about spending more on space travel than on other things on Earth.
We’re retired now, so it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labour, he remarked.
Similar to how John Glenn’s space shuttle voyage in 1998 disproved age stereotypes, Tito anticipates that he will do the same. The oldest person in first space is still the first American to orbit the planet.
“He wasn’t even 77. He was only a teenager, “said Tito. I could eventually be 10 years older than him.