Space company SpaceX wants to conduct the first commercial spacewalk. A crew member on a new mission must leave the spacecraft and do odd jobs around the Earth.
Elon Musk’s company has had new spacesuits made for this. The spacecraft is also set to enter the highest manned orbit ever around our planet. The launch is at the end of this year at the earliest.
SpaceX has not disclosed exactly how far the spacecraft should travel. However, the American flight Gemini-11 now holds the record from 1966, which flew at an altitude of almost 1,400 kilometres. Space station ISS flies much lower, at about 400 kilometres altitude.
Polaris Dawn is the name of the mission announced Monday. The flight commander becomes billionaire Jared Isaacman. He is the founder of payment service Shift4. Last September, Isaacman also went into space with SpaceX. He was then captain of the first mission with only civilians on board. They spent three days in orbit around the Earth.
Isaacman’s three travelling companions on the new flight are former Air Force pilot Scott Poteet and SpaceX employees Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon. They stay in space for five days.
Two more Polaris missions are to follow later. Plans for this have not yet been announced.
Elon Musk (Tesla)’s SpaceX is in fierce competition with Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) and Virgin Galactic (Richard Branson). They all want to sell tourist flights to space. Musk has sold a tourist flight to the Moon to a Japanese billionaire. SpaceX is also involved in the US government’s space program. For example, the company can build the Lunar Lander that will have to bring people to the Moon and back in a few years.