While we may be at least a year away from learning the names of the first four SpaceX private astronauts to fly in space, we do know the first seven space tourists Space Adventures has sent into orbit.
Space Adventures has safely launched seven private citizens on eight total missions to the International Space Station with the help of the Russian Space Agency. Each private citizen self-funded their way into space between 2001 and 2009:
- April 2001: Dennis Tito, an American entrepreneur, is the first space tourist to purchase a ticket to orbit (reportedly for $20 million) through Russia’s space program despite resistance from NASA
- April 2002: Mark Shuttleworth, the South African and British entrepreneur behind Ubuntu, spoke to Nelson Mandela and a terminally ill 14-year-old South African girl named Michelle Foster by radio from space
- October 2005: Gregory Olsen donated $5 million in 2019 to the hospital that ruled a black spot on his lungs as benign, clearing him for spaceflight 14 years earlier
- September 2006: Anousheh Ansari became the first female and American-Iranian private astronaut to self-fund their spaceflight
- April 2007 & March 2009: Charles Simonyi, who developed Word and Excel at Microsoft, is the first and only repeat Space Adventures client
- October 2008: Richard Garriott, the son of astronaut Owen Garriott, is an English-American video game designer
- September 2009: Guy Laliberté, the first Canadian private astronaut (also a poker player and Cirque du Soleil co-founder), hosted the celebrity-packed, two-hour “Moving Stars and Earth for Water” event from ISS to promote access to safe drinking water
Despite self-funding the journey, each Space Adventures client required rigorous training before launch and carried out their own science experiments while in orbit.
The space tourism firm Space Adventures will once again lead the mission of fielding candidates willing to fund their way to space in 2021 or 2022.
Russia’s space program won’t be required, however, and the International Space Station won’t be a destination.
SpaceX will launch up to four private astronauts on a Crew Dragon spacecraft with a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a five-day spaceflight adventure.