EXCLUSIVE: Fly me to the moon! Are Elon Musk’s picks for the two $100 MILLION tickets aboard his SpaceX rocket among THESE eight (wealthy) space enthusiasts?
- On Monday, Musk announced that his space exploration company, SpaceX, had agreed to the trip for ‘two private citizens’, scheduled for the end of 2018
- Musk would not divulge the names of the travelers
- But DailyMail.com has spoken with experts and assembled a list of people with the passion – and the money – to make the cut
- Potential top contenders include Hollywood director James Cameron, female space veteran Anousheh Ansari and Google’s Sergey Brin
- Experts tell what the space travelers can expect
On Monday, Musk announced that his space exploration company, SpaceX, had agreed to the trip for ‘two private citizens’, scheduled for the end of 2018.
The trip will send the passengers around the moon’s orbit and propel them back to Earth, but won’t land on the moon. The voyaging vessel, SpaceX’s Dragon 2, will be remote controlled, but the tourists will undergo emergency situation training.
‘They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,’ the tech mogul said.
On Monday, tech mogul Elon Musk (above) announced that his space exploration company, SpaceX,
had agreed to send two ‘private citizens’ to the moon, scheduled for the end of 2018
The travellers for now remain anonymous but Musk said he would release their names at a later date.
Above, a SpaceX Falcon9 rocket blasts off February 19, from the Kennedy Space Center
The trip will send the passengers around the moon’s orbit but won’t land on the moon. The voyaging
vessel, SpaceX’s Dragon 2, will be remote controlled and the tourists will undergo emergency training.
Above, a SpaceX processing building at the Kennedy Space Center
‘This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.’
The travelers for now remain anonymous; Musk said he would release their names at a later date if they approved.
DailyMail.com has spoken with aerospace experts and space veterans and assembled a list of space enthusiasts who have the passion – and the considerable passage, estimated by one expert in the region of $100 million – to make the cut.
Dennis Tito, the pioneer of space tourism who was the first private citizen to fund his own trip, shared a glimpse of what SpaceX passengers can expect.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I wanted to fly in space since the early 60s and set a goal that I would eventually do it. Finally I had the opportunity 40 years later but it was well worth waiting for because it was just euphoric and the best eight days I’ve ever spent in my entire life.’
Tito ruled himself out as a SpaceX passenger.
Two-time private astronaut and tech billionaire, Charles Simonyi, told DailyMail.com that he ‘had some suspicions’ on potential passengers and said that Musk had set himself ‘an incredibly audacious goal.’
‘I have the greatest respect for his talent and for audacity in general. I really wish him the best success in what he’s doing,’ Simonyi said.
Adventurer Per Wimmer, who is signed up for three upcoming trips to space including on Virgin Galactic – but not SpaceX – said SpaceX’s program and 2018 launch date was ‘ambitious’.
‘When it comes to space, it always takes longer and costs more than you initially think,’ he told DailyMail.com
Wimmer said he was sure that Musk, who he knows personally, would achieve the goal due to his reputation in ‘disruptive technology’ and the huge amount of capital he has raised to innovate the aerospace industry.
‘I’m sure Elon will execute the mission, if not exactly within the timescale but I wish him all the best,’ he said. ‘He’s got the vision, he works incredibly hard and he surrounds himself with clever people who can do clever things.’
MOON SHOT: LIKELY SUSPECTS
The female space veteran: Anousheh Ansari
The engineer and entrepreneur was the fourth self-funded explorer to visit space in 2006 – her ticket cost $20 million-plus.
Iranian-American Ansari, 50, and her family sponsor an X Prize – a $10 million reward for the first commercial company to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice in two weeks.
Engineer and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari was the fourth self-funded explorer to visit
space in 2006. On Sunday, Ansari accepted the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film on
behalf of Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the ceremony
She previously told Forbes: ‘As a successful entrepreneur, it would have been easy for me to stay safely in my comfort zone rather than putting my reputation on the line by venturing into the risky business of space travel. However, I believe that taking risks are at the core of achieving a big dream or anything of significance, so this was no different in my mind.’
On Sunday, Ansari accepted the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for ‘The Salesman’ on behalf of Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the ceremony over President Trump’s travel ban. Incidentally, Elon Musk also attended Sunday’s Academy Awards.
She did not respond to a request for comment by DailyMail.com.
The young tech mogul: Mark Shuttlewort
Mark Shuttleworth is South African-born and made his Internet millions at a young age.
He became the second space tourist in 2002 in his late twenties and paid around $20 million
Like Musk, 43-year-old Shuttleworth is South African-born and made his Internet millions at a young age.
Shuttleworth founded Thawte Consulting in 1995, a company which specializes in digital certificates and Internet security. In December 1999, Thawte was acquired by VeriSign, earning Shuttleworth about $575 million.
He became the second space tourist in 2002 in his late twenties (he paid around $20m) and during the voyage spoke to Nelson Mandela.
He did not respond when asked via email if he would take part in the SpaceX mission.
The ‘rocket man’: Steve Jurvetson
Steve Jurvetson, 49, is a renowned venture capitalist who has invested widely in the space industry.
He is on the board of SpaceX and Planet Labs, which builds satellites
A renowned venture capitalist, the 49-year-old has invested widely in the space industry.
He is on the board of SpaceX and Planet Labs, which builds satellites.
Jurvetson celebrated SpaceX’s announcement on Monday by tweeting a picture of the company’s spacecraft, the Dragon, with the message: ‘How to train your Dragon 2. Dream BIG.’
Being a pioneer is not new to him – he was the first person in the world to own a Tesla electric car. He did not respond to a request for comment.
The dreamer: Naveen Jain
Naveen Jain, 57, is a space fanatic and founded Moon Express, which aims to become the first
moon mining company to extract precious resources for use on Earth
The internet entrepreneur, 57, is a space fanatic and founded Moon Express, which wants to become the first moon mining company to extract precious resources for use on Earth.
Last year he told CNBC: ‘If you want to make an impact, you have to dream big, even if people think you’re crazy. As an entrepreneur, you never fail; you pivot. If you are shooting for the moon, you probably can actually land on it and solve problems.’
The night before Musk’s big announcement, Jain tweeted a picture of spaceman floating over the earth with one of his own motivational quotes: ‘Walk away from people who laugh at your ambitions.’ He added: ‘Nothing is more destructive to success than limiting beliefs. #mondaymotivation’.
Jain did not respond to DailyMail.com.
The space visionary: Peter Diamandis
Peter Diamandis, 55, is a Bronx-born doctor and entrepreneur who has been educating people on space
since he learned of the Apollo missions as a young boy. He is a co-founder and leader of a number of
The Bronx-born doctor and entrepreneur, 55, has been educating people on space since he learned of the Apollo missions as a young boy and has long dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
For years, he has been at the forefront of space exploration and discovery. He founded the X Prize Foundation – a non-profit which has the grand goal of giving multi-million-dollar rewards to breakthroughs that ‘pushes the limits of what’s possible — to change the world for the better’.
He is a co-founder and leader of a number of space innovators including Space Adventures, the Rocket Racing League, Planetary Resources and the International Space University. He also wants to help humans live to 150 years old with his company, Human Longevity.
Diamandis did not respond to request for comment.
The ‘enlightened’ competitor for richest man on earth: Google’s Sergey Brin
Google’s Sergey Brin is estimated to be one of the world’s richest people with $40 billion wealth. In 2008, he
invested $5m in Space Adventures as a deposit for future flights on the Soyuz space shuttle, which had carried
previous space tourists
From a young age, Brin knew of space travel: his mother worked as a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Brin, now 43, entered Silicon Valley folklore after founding Google in a garage in his mid-twenties with college friend Larry Page.
He is estimated to be one of the world’s richest people with $40 billion wealth. He was once called ‘Enlightenment Man’ by The Economist because of his belief that ‘knowledge is always good’.
In 2008, he invested $5m in Space Adventures as a deposit for future flights on the Soyuz space shuttle, which had carried previous space tourists. At the time, he told the New York Times: ‘I am a big believer in the exploration and commercial development of the space frontier, and am looking forward to the possibility of going into space.’
The Soyuz trips were postponed before Brin had a chance to go.
Google did not respond to comment.
The risk-taking director: James Cameron
Director James Cameron, 62, has set tongues wagging in the space community as a possible moon
voyager due to his other challenging explorations
Although Musk ruled out Hollywood, James Cameron has set tongues wagging in the space community as a possible moon voyager due to his other challenging explorations – including reaching the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean in Deepsea Challenger five years ago. (He is the first person to do it solo and only the third in history.)
The Canadian billionaire, 62, has long expressed a fascination with space – both in his movies and with real-life projects. He sits on the advisory board of Planetary Resources, a company which plans to mine asteroids for precious minerals, where investors include Virgin’s Richard Branson, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, and Microsoft alum Charles Simonyi.
A rep for Cameron responded to a DailyMail.com interview request: ‘Thank you but he isn’t available to participate.’
The founder: Elon Musk himself
Although the 45-year-old billionaire said in a prepared statement that two private citizens had approached him about the mission, it hasn’t stopped fans breathlessly speculating it could be Musk himself.
Musk, who has recently met with President Trump a number of times, shares a similar vision to the president in terms of commercial partnership with public agencies, such as NASA.
DailyMail.com reached out to SpaceX for comment.
Staying grounded (for now, at least).
These space enthusiasts have confirmed to DailyMail.com that they won’t be on the SpaceX flight
The pioneer: Dennis Tito
Dennis Tito is a wealthy American engineer and entrepreneur who was the first citizen to fund
his own trip into space.
The wealthy American engineer and entrepreneur was the first citizen to fund his own trip into space.
He spent almost eight days on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2001, paying an estimated $20 million and using the time to perform scientific experiments.
Now 76, Tito told DailyMail.com he was not one of the SpaceX two – and said he had no insider knowledge on who it could be, adding it would ‘require someone of means and with a real interest in space’.
He said: ‘I think it would be a wonderful experience. I’m really excited to hear that this is going to take place in the near future.’
The frequent-flier: Tech billionaire Charles Simonyi
Dr. Charles Simonyi, an early pioneer at Microsoft with Bill Gates who is credited with its Office program,
has been to space not once – twice – but says he is ‘done with space tourism’
Charles Simonyi, an early pioneer at Microsoft with Bill Gates who is credited with its Office program, has been to space not once – but twice.
Each trip was two weeks long – with two days on the Russian spacecraft, Soyuz, and the rest of the time on the International Space Station (ISS). He made the trips in 2007 and 2009, spending an estimated $25m and $35m respectively.
‘I went up on one spacecraft with one crew and came down on a different spacecraft with a different crew. So altogether I’ve been flying with ten different astronauts on five different spacecrafts,’ Simonyi said.
The 68-year-old software architect said he was not one of the SpaceX passengers.
‘No – I’m done with space tourism,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘I have to work and I have two small kids to spend time with.’
The invested adventurer: Per Wimmer
Financier and philanthropist Per Wimmer, a friend of Elon Musk, ruled himself out of the SpaceX trip
but told DailyMail.com that he ‘wished’ he was going
Per Wimmer ruled himself out of the SpaceX trip but told DailyMail.com that he ‘wished’ he was going.
The financier and philanthropist, who is a friend of Elon Musk, bought his first ticket to space 17 years ago.
Wimmer, 49, has completed the rigorous training program and is already signed up for three trips: he is a founding astronaut with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic; astronaut ‘Number 1’ for the XCOR Lynx space craft and holds a seat with Space Adventures.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I’m a serial committer in that regard but it’s not me on this occasion.’
He estimated that a seat on the Dragon 2 spacecraft would cost about $100 million.
Wimmer said although he did not know who the two private passengers were it would likely be revealed on the ‘space grapevine’.
‘It’s a very small market but I think two people have called Elon – I don’t think he was in the market of selling around the moon trips.
‘I think he’s very busy with cargo trips to the ISS and the manned flights. I don’t think everything has been fleshed out yet.’
Wimmer said he hoped to make it to space in around 18 months. ‘I am one of the first ones to go on the Galactic and that program is moving forward very nicely. I am the number one astronaut on XCOR and I don’t think that call is a million miles away. I’ll probably fly on Galactic before the round-the-moon trip happens.’
He added: ‘Not that there’s any competition, we’re all friends in the space business.’
The second generation astronaut: Richard Garriott
Video game developer Richard Garriott was the sixth space tourist in 2008, paying an estimated $30
million for the privilege.
Video game developer Garriott was the sixth space tourist in 2008, paying an estimated $30 million for the privilege.
Along with being credited with creating the term ‘avatar’, he is also behind a number of blockbuster games including fantasy role-playing game, Ultima Series.
A founding member of Space Adventures, Garriott’s father was a NASA astronaut (making him the only second-generation astronaut).
However Garriott ruled himself out, tweeting hours after the Space X announcement: ‘Not me… yet!’
During a teleconference on Monday, Elon Musk ruled out any celebrities, saying curtly: ‘It’s no one from Hollywood.’ Among the celebrities who hold $250,000 tickets on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga.
WHAT’S THE COST FOR A SEAT ON THE SPACEX SPACECRAFT?
Elon Musk did not divulge the cost of a seat on the private SpaceX moon trip but said his company had accepted a ‘significant deposit’.
Private astronaut Per Wimmer, who has two decades of experience in the space industry, told DailyMail.com: ‘I think it will be not far from $100 million – knowing what it takes rocket-wise, the trajectory and also building in a profit margin.’
A ride on the Soyuz spacecraft – as far as the ISS, 250 miles above earth – costs upwards of $70 million.
‘To go around the moon and back is about 300,000-400,000 miles but it doesn’t cost much more because once you’re out of the earth’s atmosphere, you don’t need a lot of energy to keep going. That first 1km is the most expensive,’ said Wimmer.
ARE THERE HEALTH RISKS?
Musk said on Monday that he expected health and fitness tests for the moon trip to begin in late 2017. Wimmer explained the two aspects of space travel which take the greatest toll on the body.
‘It’s recommended to get your body used to G-force exposure and the weightless environment.
‘When you launch, it’s a minimum G-force of X – the equivalent of lying down and having six people standing on top of you. When you put yourself in a weightless environment – it’s very strange on your balance and can play tricks on your mind.’
He said that doctors can mitigate for a lot of minor health problems but there were like to be two major health concerns that would prevent you from going into space.
Private astronaut Per Wimmer, who has two decades of experience in the space industry, told DailyMail.com:
‘I think it [the SpaceX moon trip] will be not far from $100 million – knowing what it takes rocket-wise, the
trajectory and also building in a profit margin’. Above, Wimmer shows his ticket for space traveling after
a press conference in California in 2008
‘You get a lot of G-Force pressure to your back, so if you have a problem there, that’s tricky,’ he said. ‘Because of the pressure, adrenaline and all the excitement, if you have a weak heart or a heart condition, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a lot of strain on the body.’
He added: ‘They have got to make sure your body is in good condition and there’s no big hiccups that can happen. So a rigorous medical is also important.
‘You also do normal exercise, eat well and don’t drink. There’s not many things that can rule you out as long as you listen to the doctor and complete your training.
WHAT TRAINING IS INVOLVED?
There are three elements – human centrifuge training, preparation for weightlessness and flying at high altitudes and high speed.
CENTRIFUGE – Wimmer explained: ‘You go round and round in circles, creating G-Force exposure to the body. It completely simulates a rocket launch. It’s not for people who are claustrophobic but it’s very useful.
THE ‘VOMIT COMET‘ – Trainee astronauts are flown in a jumbo jet to an altitude of 14km – then the plane makes more than a dozen ‘passes’ – accelerating towards the ground – to reach a low altitude. This technique creates 30-40 seconds of weightlessness. When the plane reaches 6km, the pilot goes back up again.
‘During a training session, they do about 16 passes and have 15 people on board. There’s always a few throwing up in the corner,’ Wimmer said.
FIGHTER JET TRAINING – Fighter jets fly at Mach 3, three times the speed of sound. They reach altitudes of 80,000ft at which point you can see the curvature of the earth.
Wimmer said: ‘We fly fast and high but also a bit lower to do acrobatics, which exposes your body to G-Force. Its excellent training as it teaches you how to react and your body’s limits in terms of pressure.’
HOW LONG DOES TRAINING TAKE?
It’s dependent on the type of flight.
Wimmer said: ‘For suborbital flights training usually takes one or two weeks because it’s a relatively short flight – you’re up and back in the same day.
‘When it comes to around the moon, it gets a little more complex. The best example would be the Soviets’ program. They typically spend four months in Star City (the Cosmonaut training center in Moscow).
‘For the SpaceX trip, the training will probably be somewhere between those two time periods. Elon will probably condense it down to what really matters and make a fairly efficient program.
Two-time private astronaut, Charles Simonyi, also shared the knowledge of his training for space.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I trained for eight months for the first flight. I only had to do three months [for the second flight] because they accepted the results of the first training. The Soyuz is a very old-fashioned spacecraft and it’s really not built for ease of use. I’m sure that the amount of training for the Dragon will be much less.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GO INTO SPACE?
The first ever self-funded space tourist, Dennis Tito, told DailyMail.com that his experience in space made him feel ‘euphoric’.
He added: ‘I expect that the two individuals who will fly to the moon, or the vicinity of the moon, will have also a glorious experience and I would think an even greater experience because of being so far from earth.’
Simonyi said he had been more deeply affected by the training program than the flight.
The first ever self-funded space tourist, Dennis Tito, told DailyMail.com that his experience in space
made him fee l’euphoric’. Above, Tito in space in 2001
He said: ‘The flight was an intellectual exercise – seeing for real what the training made me understand. There were no surprises during the flight because the training was so good, with lots of simulations. I’m also a pilot and the good thing about simulators is you typically practice for emergencies that don’t happen on real flights – the same thing with space. In a way, the training gave a greater range of experiences than the flight itself.
He added: ‘Though we did have few small failures during the flight [to space]. My crewmates and I had a chuckle because one failure was what we practised for on our final exam on the ground.’
WHAT DOES SPACE LOOK LIKE?
Simonyi said: ‘It’s an amazing expanse and it’s not unlike flying on an aircraft. Obviously you’re a little higher but not extremely so. You don’t see the whole of the earth from low orbit where the space station is flying.
Two-time private astronaut Dr. Charles Simonyi said he had been more deeply affected by the training
program than the flight itself. ‘The flight was an intellectual exercise – seeing for real what the training
made me understand,’ he said. Above, Simonyi rests shortly after landing from his space trip in 2009
‘The ISS is 250 miles above the surface – the distance between New York and Boston. You see one or two states, a few countries in Europe but not much more than that.’
WHAT DO YOU DO IN SPACE?
Simonyi said: ‘I volunteered for as many experiments as they were willing to trust me with. Many of these experiments are fairly simply but the professional astronauts only have so much time. For the European Space Agency I did a sample experiment, taking biological swabs of various prescribed parts of the space station to see if any bacteria are living there. They were returned to Earth to be analysed.
‘Other experiments were as simple as giving blood before and after the flight. Many of the effects of the space are not well understood and the more people fly, the more data the scientists have.
‘I did a high resolution cat scan of my leg and arm before and after to research bone loss. What’s great is the tourists are not exactly the same kind of people as the professionals – we tend to be older, tend to be less athletic – just normal people.’