At 82, the very first space tourist will fly over the Moon with SpaceX

The very first space tourist, Dennis Tito, has signed up to go again. But this time, the destination is not the ISS.

It was April 30, 2001. At the age of 60, Dennis Tito flew to the International Space Station (ISS), becoming the first space tourist in history. At the time, the trip was organized by Russia, via the Soyuz TM-32 mission. The stay, at nearly 400 kilometers above sea level, was brief: barely less than eight days.

More than twenty years later, Dennis Tito will be able to put on a space suit again. This American, born August 8, 1940, is going back into space. But this time, everything changes: the launch pad, the service provider, the flight plan and the destination. Indeed, this time, the astronaut will travel with SpaceX. Direction: the Moon. This flight (the date of which is not fixed) was announced on October 12.

Dennis Tito, left. // Source: NASA

SpaceX today unveiled the first two members of its second lunar expedition – the first has not yet taken place, however: it is expected for 2023, barring a dramatic change. They are Dennis Tito and Akiko Tito, his wife. That’s about all the American company said. We do not know the timetable for this mission.

For one week, Starship and its crew will travel to the Moon, fly within 200 km of the lunar surface, and complete a full orbit of the Moon before returning safely to Earth. This mission should be launched after the first flight of Starship and dearMoon as part of the Polaris program “Notes SpaceX in its press release.

Dennis Tito is 82 years old

Dennis Tito is 82 years old today. Assuming that this new expedition takes place in the same year as the first, namely 2023, the American will be one year older. It’s an old age to go into space, but it’s not impossible: during the Blue Origin NS-16 mission, the New Shepard rocket carried Wally Funk, a former NASA member who was then 82 years old.

Apart from Akiko Tito, the rest of the crew of this flight is unknown. For the record, during his very first space trip, Dennis Tito rubbed shoulders with the Frenchwoman Claudie Haigneré. The astronaut was then on his second space flight, but also the first in the ISS. The previous one took place in the Russian station Mir, between 1996 and 1997.

Gibbous moon.  // Source: Flickr/CC/Jim Champion (cropped photo)
A one week tour. // Source: Jim Champion

Dennis and Akiko Tito will take off from US territory, but it is not specified from which spaceport. In 2001, it was the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan that was chosen, due to the Russian nature of the mission. The price for the flight with SpaceX was not disclosed. For the ISS, it is estimated that Dennis Tito spent nearly 20 million dollars.

Dennis and Akikto Tito will have to undergo a training program, even if the vehicle in which they will embark – the Starship – will be automated and managed remotely by SpaceX teams. During his trip to the ISS, the American had to undergo more than 900 hours of training so as not to be a dead weight or an inconvenience in the station.

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