(ORDO NEWS) — The world’s first space tourist, who flew to the ISS 21 years ago, wants to return – this time he is going to circle the moon aboard Elon Musk’s starship.
For Dennis Tito, 82, this is a chance to relive the joys of space travel. The date of his flight to the moon, which will last about a week, will be determined later. Tito’s company will be made up of his wife and 10 other space tourists.
The pair acknowledge that the Starship rocket still has a lot of testing and refinement to go through.
“We have to keep going for as many years as it takes for SpaceX to complete this rocket,” Tito told the Associated Press this week. “I could be sitting in a rocking chair without doing any useful exercise if not for this mission.”
Tito is the second billionaire to book a spacecraft to fly around the moon. Japanese fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa announced in 2018 that he was buying an entire flight to take along eight more people, preferably artists.
SpaceX has yet to launch Starship on a Super Heavy booster from a spaceport in Texas. NASA has already secured a contract to use Starship to land its astronauts on the Moon in 2025.
Tito said the contract with SpaceX, revealed on Wednesday, was signed in August 2021. It includes the option to fly for five years from now. Tito will be 87 years old by then.
“But if I had remained in good health, I would have waited 10 years,” he said.
Tito’s 57-year-old wife said she did not need to be persuaded. They are both pilots and understand the risks. They share Musk’s vision for the space future and believe that a married couple flying to the moon together will inspire others to do the same.
Tito, who sold his investment firm Wilshire Associates nearly two years ago, said he doesn’t feel guilty about spending money on space travel.
“We’ve retired and now it’s time to reap the rewards of all the hard work,” he said.
Tito expects him to also break age bias, as John Glenn did with the space shuttle in 1998. At that time he was 77 years old.
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