Dennis Tito signs deal to fly on 2nd manned Starship mission around Moon

Capitalism in space: Dennis Tito, the first tourist to fly in space and now 82-years-old, has signed a deal with SpaceX for both him and his wife Akiko to fly on 2nd manned Starship mission around Moon.

His weeklong moonshot — its date to be determined and years in the future — will bring him within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar far side. He’ll have company: his wife, Akiko, and 10 others willing to shell out big bucks for the ride.

Tito won’t say how much he’s paying; his Russian station flight cost $20 million.

The couple recognize there’s a lot of testing and development still ahead for Starship, a shiny, bullet-shaped behemoth that’s yet to even attempt to reach space. “We have to keep healthy for as many years as it’s going to take for SpaceX to complete this vehicle,” Tito said in an interview this week with The Associated Press. “I might be sitting in a rocking chair, not doing any good exercise, if it wasn’t for this mission.”

The bottom line is that this deal, combined with the two other passenger Starship deals SpaceX has already signed, demonstrates that there is a solid market for Starship, even before its first launch. Expect that market to boom once the rocket begins operations.