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On this page: SpaceX and Crew Dragon | Polaris Dawn | Inspiration 4 | Space Adventures | MZ goes to ISS | Dear Moon | New Shepard | Virgin Galactic Unity

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Space tourism is growing. In 1985 and 1986, NASA flew Senators Jake Garn (mission specialist STS-51-D April 1985) and Clarence "Bill" Nelson (mission specialist STS-61-C January 1986), who may be considered citizens. On this page you will find out more about those who have stepped off the planet and seen the stars.

Before the 21st century, space exploration technology was in its early development stage and few private citizens had flown in space. John Glenn's second trip to space in 1998 when he flew on the Space Shuttle's STS-95 mission. At that time, he was 77 years old and was not an employee of NASA or any other space agency. He became the oldest astronaut to fly.

The next American space tourist was launched in 2001, Dennis Tito paid $20 million to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Stations. He was the first of seven space tourists flying with Space Adventures supported by Roscosmos and S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia. Twenty years later, the field of space tourism has bloomed from a tiny bud to an emerging flower.

Calling all citizens! The space frontier is now open!!

The first female American citizen to go to space was Wally Funk who flow on Blue Origin's New Sheppard rocket on July 20, 2021. She held the record for the oldest person to be launched to space until William Shatner flew on New Sheppard.

- - Read more about Women in Space at Astras

SpaceX and Crew Dragon

Polaris Dawn Mission

Polaris Dawn mission is a private human spaceflight mission, that will be conducted from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Polaris Dawn will be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9b5 rocket from NASA Kennedy Space Center from the Launch Complex 39A . The flight will raise donations and awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and other charitable causes. The mission will be conducted under the newly formed Polaris Program. Polaris Dawn is the first human spaceflight mission in the Polaris program that will demonstrate new technologies and conduct microgravity research. Polaris Dawn will conduct research with the aim of better understanding the effects of spaceflight and space radiation on human health. The crew will consist of Jared Isaacman, Scott Poteet, Sarah Gillis, and Anna Menon, who will spend up to five days in orbit.

- - Find out more about Polaris Dawn at Astra's Stargate.

Inspiration 4 Mission

Inspiration 4 logo
Inspiration 4 logo

The Inspiration 4 citizen mission was launched by SpaceX on Falcon 9 rocket. The astronauts orbited the Earth in a specially modified Crew Dragon, named Resilence. The mission launched on September 16, 2021.

The the flight's commander of the Inspiration mission was Jared Isaacman, 38 years old. He is the founder of Shift4 Payments that he founded at the age of 16. He is a jet pilot who has flow in over 100 airshows flying with Black Diamond Jet Team. He holds world records for speed and has donated proceeds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Isaacman is also providing financial support for the mission and has purchased two seats on the mission.

Hayley Arceneaux, nicknamed Hope, is 29 years old. She works for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is a former patient, having survived bone cancer. Today she works at St. Judes's as a Physician's Assistant treating patients with leukemia and lymphoma. She will be the youngest woman astronaut after she flies as well as the first person with a prosthetic to go to space.

Chris Sembroski, 42, a U.S. Space Camp counselor and teacher using STEM-based education to help students find a career path to following their passions. Sembroski entered a raffle to secure his seat on the mission. Although he did not win, an unnamed friend who did win gave over his chance for personal reasons.

Dr. Sian Proctor, 51, was born in Guam while her father was working at the NASA tracking station. She is a geoscientist professor for over 20 years at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, AZ, and has had a lifelong passion for space exploration.

The crew orbited the Earth for 3 days, testing out the Crew Dragon's capabilities and, of course, giving SpaceX more work to do to make this type of mission more enjoyable. The spacecraft was outfitted with a cupola mounted on the nose cone. This window became the largest window ever launched into space. The cupola is removable so the Crew Dragon can be customized. During the flight, the Dragon reached an orbital altitude of ~364 miles or 585 km. Resilience splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Canaveral on September 18, 2021. Inspiration 4 raised $243 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospita.l

- - For more information check out the Inspiration 4 Website - -

If you have Netflix you can watch Countdown: Inspiration 4 Mission and follow the crew from training to launch to landing.

- - Find out more about SpaceX at Astra's Stargate.

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Space Adventures flies MZ to ISS

Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) visited the International Space Station in December 2021 on a flight arranged by Space Adventures. He was accompanied by his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, who helped record MZ's experiences. He flew with Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin (mission commander) and Yozo Hirano on the Soyuz MS-20 mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

MZ wanted to find out "what life is like in space." MZ will be documenting his daily life on the ISS and sharing it with the world on his YouTube channel. He will be assisted by Yozo, of course. The launch is scheduled for December 8, 2021 when MZ and Yozo became the 8th and 9th citizens that Space Adventures sent to space.

Check out Yusaku Maezawa [MZ] on YouTube. Videos describe the process that MZ and his assistant Yozo have experienced while on the ISS and training for the space adventure of their lives. MZ's videos are posted in Japanese but captions can be translated into English on youTube. All I do is turn on the captions and YouTube is smart enough to translate them into English that is my native language. (MZ must have a real translater because in general translated captions are amusing with inaccuracies.) Routine tasks like making tea, throwing a frisbee, and just plain gazing out the window at beautiful mother Earth are the kind of subjects discussed in MZ's videos.

MZ and Yozo returned to Earth on December 20, 2021, on the Soyuz MS-20 piloted by cosmonaut, Alexander Misurkin.

Check out Elizabeth Howell's article on, New space tourist videos show Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa's life in orbit. This article contains videos and commentary.

Space Adventures

Space Adventures was perhaps the first kid on the block to envision space tourism and make the dream come true. It was founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson and is headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA. There is also an office in Moscow.

Space Adventures first sent Dennis Tito to ISS in 2001, Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002, Gregory Olsen went to the ISS in October 2005. In September 2006, Space Adventures sent their first female citizen to space, Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari. The fifth Space Adventures tourist was Charles Simonyi who visited the ISS in April 2007 and again in March 2009 becoming the world's citizen space explorer who went to space twice. In 2008 Richard Garriott became the sixth citizen launched by Space Adventures. In October 2009, Guy Laliberté became the first Canadian citizen in space. Space Adventures sent Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano to ISS in December 2021.

Today Space Adventures is selling orbital spaceflight missions to the International Space Station (ISS), zero gravity flights, and cosmonaut training programs. They sell circumlunar missions (not sure when that's going to happen) and theoretically, reservations on future suborbital spacecraft flights.

Russian Space Tourists

The First Citizen in Space

The Soyuz TM-11 mission carried Japanese cosmonaut Toyohiro Akiyama, a reporter for the Japanese television network, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). A camera inside the spacecraft filmed the cosmonauts during their ascent for TBS. Cosmonauts Viktor Afanaseyev and Musa Manarov accompanied Toyohiro to Mir on December 2, 1990. Akiyama's network paid for the flight. Toyohiro's flight was paid by TBS and he became the first Japan national and the first journalist in space on December 1990. While aboard Mir, Akiyama made live reports each day, documenting life aboard the station. He returned to Earth on December 10, 1990 with cosmonauts Gennadi Manakov and Gennadi Strekalov.

Project Juno

Project Juno logo
Juno Logo

Project JUNO was a privately-funded British space project initiated in June 1989. Helen Sharman was chosen out of 13,000 applicants to become the first British cosmonaut. The Juno consortium could not raise the entire sum, but Mikhail Gorbachev directed the mission to proceed. Project Juno launched on the May 18, 1991 on the Soyuz TM-12 mission, carrying Helen to the Mir space station with Soviet cosmonauts Anatoly Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev.

Helen Sharman was a chemist working on food at Mars Confectionery, Ltd. when she applied for the astronaut position. On Mir, she carried out multiple experiments including included medical and agricultural tests that were designed by the Soviets. Most were life science experiments including testing 250,000 pansy seeds that were placed in the "Kvant-2" EVA airlock, exposing the seeds to cosmic radiation. Helen also contacted nine British schools by radio while she was on Mir. Helen returned to Earth on May 26, 1991 on the Soyuz TM-11.

Tim Peake flew on Soyuz TMA-19M to the International space Station on December 15, 2015, becoming the first individual that the UK government sent into space.

Russian film director Klim Shipenko and Russian actress Yulia Peresild launched on October 5, 2021 on Soyuz MS-19 spaceflight. The mission was commanded by cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. Shipenko and Peresild filmed a movie on the International Space Station, named "The Challenge" or "Вызов" in Russian (Vyzov). The filmaker and actress spent about 12 days on ISS and returned to Earth aboard Soyuz MS-18 on October 17, 2021.

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Dear Moon

Astra's Dear Moon collage

Formally announced on March 3, 2021, dearMoon is the first civilian mission to the Moon. It is currently planned for 2023. The Starship rocket that is being developed by SpaceX will take the first civilian crew to the Moon. The trip will take astronauts around the Moon on a circumlunar trajectory. Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa aka MZ purchased all the tickets for this mission. He wants to give as many talented individuals as possible the opportunity to go. He is seeking 8 crew members from around the world.

Check out MZ's YouTube video discussing the excitement as one million entries for dearMoon worldwide were received! Applicants Sneak Peek! This is as real as it gets when highly talented and motivated people discuss their life dreams of space flight and love for arts and sciences.

- - For more information check out Astra's response to Dear Moon

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New Sheppard

Blue Origin's sub-orbital hopper

The New Shepard rocket is a reusable suborbital rocket system that can take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line, considered to be the boundary of space. The spacecraft allows an 11-minute flight powered by the New Shepard rocket to provide passengers a view from space.

On July 20, the New Sheppard carried 4 passengers to the edge of space. Passengers included Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, his brother, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen. Wally Funk was a member of the elite Mercury 13 and 82 years of age. Read Wally Funk's biography on Astra's Women in Space page. Today Wally holds the record of the oldest person to fly. Oliver Daemen was 18, when he flew in the New Sheppard, making him the youngest person to fly. Wally's father paid for his ticket.

- - For more information check out Blue Origin on Astra's Commercial Space Page

William Shatner, known to space fans as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek universe, flew on the Blue Sheppard to touch the edge of space and view the beautiful blue home planet, Earth, on October 13, 2021. This flight made him the oldest person to launch to space at age 90. Other citizens on this flight include Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president, Chris Boshuizen co-founder of Planet (a satellite company), and Glen de Vries, an executive with Dassault Systèmes. Shatner hopes he will never recover from the flight.

Blue Origins Civillian Launches

Date of Launch New Shepard Spacecraft Passengers
December 11, 2021 RSS First Step 4
March 31, 2022 RSS First Step 6
June 4, 2022 RSS First Step 6
August 4, 2022 RSS First Step 6

On September 12, 2022, Blue Origins' New Shepard uncrewed flight with commercial payload failured when a booster failure set off the launch escape system during flight. Although the rocket was lost, and the capsule landed successfully. The New Sheppard will be grounded until the FAA signs off on the company's investigation into the mishap.

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Virgin Galactic

Unity 22 mission

On July 11, 2021, Virgin Galactic's fourth crewed mission carried more than just the pilots: Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci who control the vehicle's flight and re-entry. The company's founder Richard Branson boarded the VSS Unity to take a 90-minute flight to the edge of space. This flight also included mission specialists Beth Moses, astronaut trainer; Virgin Galactic's engineer Colin Bennett; and Sirisha Bandla, a vice president of Virgin Galactic.

Unity's next scheduled mission includes 3 Italians: Walter Villadei and Angelo Landolfi from the Italian Air Force; and Pantaleone Carlucci, an engineer from the Italian national research council. Thirteen microgravity science experiments are planned. Scheduled pilotes are Michael Masucci and CJ Sturckow. Beth Moses of Virgin Galactic will be the cabin lead and call out events during flight. The current launch date is unknown because of FAA investigations of the Unity 22 flight. The next flight is expected in the first quarter of 2023.

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