The Inspiration4 mission will begin on September 15.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos fly into space on short, suborbital trips. And while the SpaceX mission and previous flights seem similar, the biggest difference is the destination.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have been taking – and will be taking – their passengers on sub-orbital flights in the future. Their vehicles only rise high enough to reach the beginning of space, then return to earth a few minutes later. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon manned vehicle will take the participants of Inspiration4 into orbit, where they will orbit the Earth for 3 days.
Also read: Humans can safely fly to Mars, but the mission must be time-limited
An important difference is also the selection of crew members – among others, a doctor’s assistant and the winner of a competition organized by a company dealing with online payments will take part.
As none of the four crew members had received formal training beforehand, the flight was dubbed the first “purely civilian” space mission. The rocket and crew capsule are fully automatic – no one on board will have to control any part of the take-off or landing.
Sending a crew of amateur astronauts into orbit is a significant step in the development of space tourism. However, despite the more integrative nature of the mission, there are still serious barriers that need to be overcome in order for average people to go into space.
Also read: Deep Space Network will help in the next missions. What are NASA’s plans?
First of all – high costs. Secondly, potential passengers would have to spend a considerable amount of time on at least minimal preparation. Additionally, outer space remains a dangerous place, and there will never be a way to completely eliminate the dangers of launching humans into space – both untrained civilians and seasoned professional astronauts.
Despite the limitations, orbital space tourism is getting closer. For SpaceX, Inspiration4 is important proof that the autonomous rocket and capsule system is safe and reliable. The company plans several more tourist missions in the next few months.