“It’s going to be, in some ways, more like a work supervisor than a cruise director,” Mr. López-Alegría said.
In an interview, Mr. Connor acknowledged that many people question the value of rich people paying millions for trips like this. “I get that people have questions,” he said. “People criticize, ‘Hey, with all the problems that are going on, why in the world are these guys spending all of this money to go into space?’”
But he replied that Kids & Community Partners, the charity arm of his company, was planning to spend $400 million over the next 10 years on programs to help children and to finance medical research. In all, he said he will eventually donate half of his net worth to charities. And about 30 percent of his wealth will go to what the company calls “key associates.”
“Only 20 percent is going to remain in my family,” Mr. Connor said. “So I guess I was just hoping that if people are going to criticize or vilify me for doing this, they’d at least have the context of what I believe.”
Space Adventures announced last year that it, too, had an agreement with SpaceX to launch a Crew Dragon to take tourists on a trip in orbit around Earth, but it has not provided more details about when that mission might take off. It has also resumed the selling of tourist trips to the space station on Russian Soyuz rockets. Two clients are scheduled to launch on a flight later this year.
Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese fashion entrepreneur, has also signed up for a SpaceX tourist trip, but that would be an around-the-moon voyage several years from now, on a giant rocket called Starship that is still under development.
Those who cannot afford an orbital trip will soon have cheaper options, in the price range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, for short up-and-down jaunts to the edge of space and back, where they can experience a few minutes of weightlessness.