Elon Musk’s SpaceX to fly private tourists around the moon in 2018

28 Feb 201727 Shares

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Image: Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock

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Two unnamed individuals will be heading on their very own private tour around the moon next year, according to Elon Musk.

The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced yesterday that two private citizens have paid a deposit for a private mission around the moon, to take place in 2018.

The individuals, likely some billionaire types, approached the company last year and are understood to be very serious about taking the flight.

Ahead of the journey, the future space travellers will receive health and fitness tests, and will begin training this year.

‘This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years, and they will travel faster and further into the solar system than any before them’
– SPACEX

The flight is expected to last about a week and will near the moon’s surface without landing on it.

To the moon and back

The overall flight will carry the space tourists 300,000 to 400,000 miles into space, even further than the 249,000 miles travelled by Apollo 13’s astronauts in 1970.

“They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission,” SpaceX confirmed.

“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.”

SpaceX said the mission would not be possible without the support of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which funded Dragon 2 development.

“This will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding,” said the company.

“Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket. At 5m pounds of lift-off thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next-largest launch vehicle currently flying.”

SpaceX added that later this year, it will launch its Crew Dragon (version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) in automatic mode without a crew.

A subsequent crewed mission is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018.

SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew.

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth.

Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral – the same launch pad used by the Apollo programme for its lunar missions.

“This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years, and they will travel faster and further into the solar system than any before them.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com