SpaceX has confirmed plans to send two private citizens around the Moon by 2018. The two passengers approached the company privately and have paid “significant deposits,” according to Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX.
“We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the Moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a Moon mission. 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. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow. Additional information will be released about the flight teams, contingent upon their approval and confirmation of the health and fitness test results.”
The names of the two citizens people are unreleased. According to Musk they will begin initial training for the trip later this year. Musk declined to announce the real cost of the mission, though admitted that it would be “comparable” the cost of a crewed mission to the International Space Station.
SpaceX hopes to launch the mission during 2018, aboard the Falcon Heavy, a new “super heavy-lift” rocket system that has been developed with the specific intention to carry humans into space.,
“We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station.”
The trip is estimated to last approximately one week: first, the rocket will skim the surface of the Moon, then go further out into deep space, and finally will loop back to Earth — reaching a distance of approximately 300,000 to 400,000 miles in total.
“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 program 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.”
This will be the first time in 45 years that humans have gone *near* the moon. SpaceX was careful to note that there will no attempted moon landing. Still, this will be the first time in 45 years that humans will have travelled into deep space. SpaceX claims that these travelers will go further into the solar system than any humans have before.