The successful launch of the privately built SpaceX spacecraft over the weekend represents a new era for getting people into space, says a Winnipegger with extensive knowledge of the stars.
Scott Young, planetarium manager with the Manitoba Museum, told 680 CJOB that because the launch involved a private company making the spacecraft, it opens up a lot of doors for things like space tourism.
SpaceX made history on Saturday after its Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off for the International Space Station (ISS) with two NASA astronauts on board. The launch, a partnership with the U.S. space agency NASA, marks the first time a privately built spacecraft carried human passengers into orbit.
“Two people getting up to the space station with a private spacecraft… that’s huge because it’s sort of a new era for the way we get into space,” Young said.
“There’s four seats in that spacecraft, and they only need to send two or three people on any given day to the space station,” Young said. “They can even bolt in a few more seats, so you could be selling tourist seats and making a lot of money there.”
It’s the first time astronauts have launched from North America in nearly a decade, and they arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday.
“The shuttle retired in 2011, and since then, everybody basically thumbs a lift on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and those are expensive seats, actually,” said Young.
In a news release, NASA’s Jim Bridenstine called the SpaceX launch a new era in human space flight.
“The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans… is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the moon and Mars,” he said.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk had similar thoughts Saturday after the launch, telling reporters the launch was hopefully “the first step on a journey toward a civilization on Mars.”