Sending heavily-trained astronauts in to space is not something that NASA takes lightly. They still measure every precaution, prepare for every situation; space is a very dangerous and the most risky place to send a human. SpaceX, although being closely partnered with NASA, makes their own calls. They are sending two tourists to the moon, in an automated rocket, within the next year. SpaceX is a privately owned company, and can indeed do what they see fit, but some are questioning the overall benefit of this mission. There is much to gain off of moon missions, but sending two tourists in an automated rocket is extremely expensive, and on top of that SpaceX is trying to make it to Mars in the not so distant future.

Don’t get me wrong, space travel is most certainly important and a huge dream of mine, but I think that right now funding shouldn’t be deliberated between research vs tourism. It will be very spectacular years from now to see space travel as a regular, every day thing, but it would also be much more spectacular to be communicating with other human life on an exoplanet, or sending astronauts to places outside the solar system, and those things require more research than can be funded right now.