SpaceX could send private citizens to outer space within the next two years.
The company has signed an agreement with Space Adventures to provide space flights for tourists on its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2021 or 2022.
Space Adventures chairman Eric Anderson said that the SpaceX programme holds the potential for its own space tourism service.
“From 2001-2009 our clients made history by flying over 36 million miles in space on eight separate missions to the ISS. Since its maiden mission in 2010, no engineering achievement has consistently impressed the industry more than the Dragon/Falcon 9 reusable system,” Anderson said.
Up to four tourists will undergo a few weeks of training in the US before launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The five-day orbital journey will reach up to twice the altitude of any prior civilian astronaut mission or space station visit – the farthest away from Earth anyone has been in 50 years.
Space Adventures claimed that the mission would be the first orbital space tourism experience made possible entirely with American technology.
SpaceX’s first manned flight
SpaceX is currently preparing for its first manned space flight, which is expected to lift off on 7 May.
The company has conducted several successful rocket and crew capsule flights in recent years, including a recent safety test which proved the capsule would be able to separate from the Falcon 9 rocket if anything goes wrong during the launch sequence.
The crewed mission will see NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken board the Crew Dragon spacecraft and head to the International Space Station.
Americans have not flown to space in a US spacecraft since the end of the shuttle programme in 2011.