World’s 1st space tourist signs up for flight around moon

Oct 11, 2022, 5:30 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 8:52 pm
This photo provided by SpaceX photo shows Dennis Tito and his wife, Akiko, at the company’s Stars...

This photo provided by SpaceX photo shows Dennis Tito and his wife, Akiko, at the company’s Starship rocket base near Boca Chica, Texas, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. The couple has booked a flight to the moon on SpaceX’s Starship. (SpaceX via AP)

(SpaceX via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The world’s first space tourist wants to go back — only this time, he’s signed up for a spin around the moon aboard Elon Musk’s Starship.

For Dennis Tito, 82, it’s a chance to relive the joy of his trip to the International Space Station, now that he’s retired with time on his hands. He isn’t interested in hopping on a 10-minute flight to the edge of space or repeating what he did 21 years ago. “Been there, done that.”

His weeklong moonshot — its date to be determined and years in the future — will bring him within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar far side. He’ll have company: his wife, Akiko, and 10 others willing to shell out big bucks for the ride.

Tito won’t say how much he’s paying; his Russian station flight cost $20 million.

The couple recognize there’s a lot of testing and development still ahead for Starship, a shiny, bullet-shaped behemoth that’s yet to even attempt to reach space.

“We have to keep healthy for as many years as it’s going to take for SpaceX to complete this vehicle,” Tito said in an interview this week with The Associated Press. “I might be sitting in a rocking chair, not doing any good exercise, if it wasn’t for this mission.”

Tito is actually the second billionaire to make a Starship reservation for a flight around the moon. Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa announced in 2018 he was buying an entire flight so he could take eight or so others with him, preferably artists. The two men both flew to the space station, from Kazakhstan atop Russian rockets, 20 years apart.

Tito kicked off space tourism in 2001, becoming the first person to pay his own way to space and antagonizing NASA in the process. The U.S. space agency didn’t want a sightseer hanging around while the station was being built. But the Russian Space Agency needed the cash and, with the help of U.S.-based Space Adventures, launched a string of wealthy clients to the station through the 2000s and, just a year ago, Maezawa.

Well-heeled customers are sampling briefer tastes of space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic expects to take paying passengers next year.

Starship has yet to launch atop a Super Heavy booster from the southern tip of Texas, near the Mexican border. At 394 feet (120 meters) and 17 million pounds (7.7 million kilograms) of liftoff thrust, it’s the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. NASA already has contracted for a Starship to land its astronauts on the moon in 2025 or so, in the first lunar touchdown since Apollo.

Tito said the couple’s contract with SpaceX, signed in August 2021 and announced Wednesday, includes an option for a flight within five years from now. Tito would be 87 by then and he wanted an out in case his health falters.

“But if I stayed in good health, I’d wait 10 years,” he said.

Tito’s wife, 57, said she needed no persuading. The Los Angeles residents are both pilots and understand the risks. They share Musk’s vision of a spacefaring future and believe a married couple flying together to the moon will inspire others to do the same.

Tito, who sold his investment company Wilshire Associates almost two years ago, said he doesn’t feel guilty splurging on spaceflight versus spending the money here on Earth.

“We’re retired and now it’s time to reap the rewards of all the hard work,” he said.

Tito expects he’ll also shatter preconceived notions about age, much as John Glenn’s space shuttle flight did in 1998. The first American to orbit the Earth still holds the record as the oldest person in orbit.

“He was only 77. He was just a young man,” Tito said. “I might end up being 10 years older than him,”

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo Amazon Prime boxes are loaded on a cart for delivery in Ne...
Haleluya Hadero, Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation.
16 hours ago
A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
David Klepper, Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
16 hours ago
A historical marker for former President Barack Obama stands at the Old State Capitol Building on W...
Associated Press

Obama historical marker now at Illinois’ Old State Capital

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A historical marker dedicated Wednesday on the grounds of Illinois’ Old State Capitol commemorates the date when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama announced his 2008 presidential bid there. The marker standing on the southeast corner of the grounds in downtown Springfield notes the future president’s Feb. 10, 2007, announcement and Obama’s Aug. […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Charges: Wisconsin boy, 10, killed mom over VR headset

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 10-year-old Milwaukee boy intentionally aimed a gun at his mother, then shot and killed her, because she would not buy him a virtual reality headset, prosecutors said. The boy initially told police that the Nov. 21 shooting was an accident, according to criminal charges obtained by the Journal Sentinel. But later […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Protesters rally against the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, in Tuls...
Associated Press

Oklahoma citizen-led initiative would codify abortion access

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Roger Coody has no legal training and his political experience until recently had been limited to registering people to vote. Now, the Oklahoma hairstylist is pushing a ballot proposal he wrote that would make abortion access a constitutional right in his deeply red state, where Republican lawmakers have banned the procedure […]
16 hours ago
FILE - Actor Danny Masterson appears at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., on June 7, 2017. ...
Associated Press

Mistrial declared in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at the trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three rapes. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo had ordered the jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and keep deliberating after they […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
World’s 1st space tourist signs up for flight around moon