The original space tourist hopes to go to the moon with SpaceX

Dennis Tito plans to visit space — eventually.


SpaceX's next lunar passengers could include one of the earliest civilian spacefarers. As CBS News reports, original space tourist Dennis Tito and his wife Akiko have signed up as passengers on the company's second planned moon voyage. They aim to travel within roughly five years, joining 10 other travelers aboard Starship. Tito didn't say how much he and Akiko would pay for the trip.

Dennis Tito built his fortune as a financial analyst, but he's best-known for paying Russia $20 million to take him to the International Space Station in 2001, making him the first space tourist. Akiko, meanwhile, is well-suited to the trip as a jet pilot. She would be one of the first women to fly around the moon in Starship, SpaceX said.

SpaceX intends to have the spacecraft circumnavigate the moon, getting as close as 124 miles from the lunar surface before returning home. The first journey is linked to Shift4 founder Jared Isaacman's Polaris Program and should include Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa alongside six to eight additional passengers.

While the news helps solidify SpaceX's tourism plans, there are more than a few challenges. To start, Dennis Tito is 82 — while he's stepping up his fitness regimen, he might be nearing William Shatner's age when the Star Trek icon visited space with Blue Origin. There's also the question of Starship's readiness. SpaceX has struggled to get its flagship vehicle up and running. While there has been progress, even the first orbital test flight might be months away. That, in turn, could push the first commercial flights beyond 2023.

Even so, this announcement could represent an important milestone. Thus far, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have broadly pulled ahead in space tourism. The Titos' plans suggest SpaceX's program is finally attracting more interest, albeit from wealthy people who won't blink at paying a fortune for a lunar sightseeing expedition.