The age of space tourism has dawned. Virgin Galatic and Blue Origin have already demonstrated their space tourism flights. Now even Star Trek's Captain Kirk (William Shatner) has been into space. But these two companies are only basically doing very high-level flights into and just touching the zone of zero gravity with one only feeling weightlessness for a few minutes before reentry. The whole duration for Blue Origin was only around 10 minutes.

As always, it is Elon Musk's SpaceX that is planning to boldly go where no one (tourist) has gone before. SpaceX's dearMoon project takes things to a whole new level - quite literally. This is planned to be a six-day moon flyby mission.

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The First SpaceX dearMoon Project Financed By Yusaku Maezawa

The first planned mission is being financed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. The plan is to fly in a single circumlunar trajectory around the Moon. Incredibly it is planned for take-off in 2023 - just next year (it could yet be delayed).

"This is the schedule and flight plan for the dearMoon project,

the first civilian lunar orbital mission aboard SpaceX’s rocket, Starship, planned for liftoff in 2023."

dearmoon.earth

Maezawa has bought the whole flight and is planning to take 6 to 8 civilians long with him (along with the required one or two crew members). He has announced that he is taking these passengers for free around the Moon on the six-day tour.

  • Financier: Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa
  • Duration: 6 Days
  • Date: Proposed Launch in 2023

At first, he had planned to use the much smaller SpaceX Dragon 2 spacecraft on the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. That only has a capacity for two passengers. In the end, he shelved that in favor of SpaceX's all-new Starship under development.

He has expressed his view that space tourism will inspire the passengers in the creation of something new and hopes it will help promote peace in the world. These passengers he is paying for are to be accomplished artists. He was taking applications, but as of February 2022, applications are closed.

  • Passengers: Six to Eight Artists Will Go For Free
  • Damien Chazelle: Movie Director - One Of the Artists Invited By Maezawa

 

Related: 15 Incredible Space Tourism Options Coming Soon (5 Destinations Already Available Today)

SpaceX's Starship

The mission is planning to use SpaceX's all-new Starship. The Starship (while a far cry from Star Trex's wrap-speed capable USS Enterprise) is revolutionary. It is a fully reusable and super heavy-lift launch vehicle and as of the beginning of 2022 is still in development.

  • Status: Still In Development
  • Reusable: The Starship Will Be Fully Reusable

Both of its stages - the Super Heavy booster and the Starship spacecraft use liquid oxygen and liquid methane to propel it into space.

Not only does the Starship have a very high payload capability, but it also has a low potential operating cost. There are even plans to develop a tanker variant of the Starship to fuel up other Starships.

  • Cost: Plans To Have A Low Operating Cost

There a massive plans for the Starship. It is even planned to be long-duration cargo and passenger spacecraft to actually put people on the moon and on mars.

  • Intended Missions: Deploying Satellites, Space Tourism, Missions To The Moon and Mars

At first, the Starship will be used to deploy satellites, and then it will be used for space tourists. It will then be optimized for lunar landings and even Mars missions.

Development of this stainless steel "spaceship" is continuing at a pace and as of February 2022, the BN4 booster and SN20 spacecraft are scheduled for the first full-stack flight in early 2022.

Related: Virgin Galactic Tourism Rocket Ship Reaches Space During Test Flight

Looking Beyond dearMoon

After this mission (assuming it is a success) who knows where space tourism will go? The next step may be actually putting space tourists on the moon. Space tourism is hoped to bring down the cost of space travel and accelerate the development of space travel.

The next crewed mission to the moon is currently being planned by NASA as part of the Artemis mission. They have chosen SpaceX's Starship and are advancing in their plans for the next mission. NASA had planned for the next crewed mission to the moon to be in 2024, but this has now been pushed back to 2025.

  • Next Crewed Moon Mission: Planned By NASA For 2025

But SpaceX may actually be even more ambitious than NASA. In 2022 their goals are to get their Spaceship operational in 2023 and then fly this orbital tourist Moon mission in 2023.

They then planned to send the first uncrewed Starship to Mars in 2024. And Elon Musk has expressed that he is "highly confident" SpaceX will land humans on Mars by 2026.

From Origin Blue to SpaceX to Virgin Galactic, we are getting the first glimpses of what space tourism and their spacecraft will look like.

  • First Crewed Mars Mission: Planned By SpaceX for 2026

Next: World’s First Space Hotel Could Start Accepting Guests In 2025