After Inspiration4, SpaceX sees high demand for free-flyer missions

Three-day private spaceflight was a weekend of excitement for four amateur astronauts who returned this weekend from the trip. Sian Proctor, shortly after he emerged from the Crew Dragon capsule, described it as "the best ride of my life."
Future customers interested in such a free-flying orbital experience didn't wait for the first reviews. The Inspiration4 mission was already generating interest long before the Crew Dragon spacecraft touched down Saturday night.

Benji Reed, SpaceX's senior director for human spaceflight programs, stated that the number of people approaching SpaceX through their sales and marketing portals had increased substantially after the launch of the space tourism mission. "There is a lot of interest in the space tourism mission."

Jared Isaacman, a billionaire, purchased the Inspiration4 flight. SpaceX has not released pricing information. SpaceX plans to lower the price of human orbital flights by lowering prices, as per sources.

Reed stated that SpaceX's track record has shown that it has reduced launch costs overall. We are working hard to reduce the cost of servicing NASA missions and other activities. We're doing something that no one has ever done before by opening the market to these types of visions. You have to continue driving down that cost."

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft carried humans for the first time in May 2020. NASA performed a demonstration launch, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right), to the International Space Station. The vehicle has also launched two additional operational crew missions for NASA, in addition to its first private mission.


Reed declined to discuss how many reusable vehicles SpaceX plans on building. However, it has Endeavour, a veteran of two spaceflights, and Resilience, a second-generation spaceflight, and is currently at the station. Resilience has been modified with a cupola to fly free-flying missions, but does not travel to any specific destination. There is also an unnamed vehicle that will be used for missions to the station. SpaceX is likely to be able to accommodate at least six crew flights per year with these three vehicles.

Reed stated that SpaceX could make more Crew Dragons for space tourism missions. He said, "If there is demand, then we'll look at what can be done to continue growing that." Starship is next on the horizon. Starship can carry more people simultaneously. There are both Dragons as well as Starships. This is exciting.

Starship is still in development and will launch to orbit using a Super Heavy rocket. The vehicle is still in development and it will launch to orbit on a Super Heavy rocket. However, it seems that the vehicle may not be ready for human launches or landings within a few years. This is due to the difficulty of performing a propulsive landing from orbit. A single Starship, however, could carry many people to orbit instead of four in a Crew Dragon. NASA's space shuttle holds record for the most people launched in a single spacecraft. Eight astronauts were on the STS61-A flight that took place in 1985.

SpaceX will be reviewing the experiences of the four amateur astronauts that flew on Crew Dragon as it prepares to launch future missions. There were no technical problems, except for a minor issue with the waste management fan. Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, said that he plans to add more amenities to future SpaceX flights such as the ability to heat food and Wi-Fi services from Starlink satellites orbiting around Earth.