A high-end product that's just waiting to blast off

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaching the International Space Station. Roman & Erica and JMAK Hospitality are selling 10-day, $55 million packages on the SpaceX craft. Photo Credit: Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock.com
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Covid-19 is likely fueling dreams about luxury vacations that are -- literally -- out of this world.

But unfortunately for those thrill-seekers, space tourism ventures probably won't take off until the pandemic is over, or at least has substantially eased.

And, of course, they'll have to have some very, very deep pockets.

One billionaire is offering a chance for three "everyday people" to join him on an October trip to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule.

• Related: Virgin Galactic 2021: More than just pie in the sky?

Jared Isaacman, the 37-year-old co-founder and CEO of a Pennsylvania credit card payment processing company, has purchased all four seats on the two-to-four daytrip and is raffling off one of them to raise $200 million for St.  Jude Children's Research Hospital.

He is giving one seat away in a raffle among people who donate to the hospital in February. Two seats will go to the hospital, including one that will go to an already-selected but unnamed frontline healthcare worker who is also a cancer survivor. The fourth seat will go to a business owner who uses his Shift4 Payments system.

Isaacman announced the raffle this week, just a few days after Houston space company Axiom revealed the names of three businessmen who are paying $55 million apiece for a similar trip on the SpaceX craft.

Axiom has also partnered with luxury travel company Roman & Erica to offer 10-day, $55 million trips for civilians. And JMAK Hospitality recently joined the effort to sell those packages through advisors; the company says that while the first trip is sold out, there are still two seat available for an April 2022 mission.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic -- which offers comparatively bargain-priced, two-and-half-hour, $250,000 space flights that will let travelers experience weightlessness and out-of-this-world views -- is gearing up for its final round of testing from New Mexico's Spaceport America.

The company said its next window opens Feb. 13.

Virgin Galactic, which reached space two times in flights from the Mojave Desert before moving to its permanent home at the spaceport, said it would conduct three test flights from New Mexico before taking paying passengers up.

Last November, Virgin Galactic said passenger flights could begin as early as March, but that date likely will be pushed back since its first attempt to reach suborbit from Spaceport America in December was aborted because of a technical issue.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin also is expected to start taking customers on suborbital flights similar to Virgin Galactic's later this year.

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