On Feb. 27th, SpaceX announced its plan to send 2 private citizens around the Moon by the end of 2018.
Fly me to the moon … Okhttps://t.co/6QT8m5SHwn
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 27, 2017
This will be the first private mission to space, with two paying and very committed customers as they “already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission”. This trip would last for around a week by going around Earth’s satellite and in outter space at approximatively 800,000kms of our planet.
This plan is supposed to be achieved using the Crew Dragon spacecraft with the Falcon Heavy rocket (the most powerful one since Apollo missions’ Saturn V moon rocket, with around 5 million pound of liftoff thrust at 2/3 of its ancestor) which will launch for the first next summer.
While declining to comment the exact cost of the trip, Musk said that it is close to what NASA pays to go to the ISS. At around $80 million for a Soyuz Rocket ticket price. Those future private astronauts will start training at the end of 2017.
SpaceX CEO stated that in any case NASA is in priority order to go the Moon : “If NASA decides to have a mission of this nature be a NASA mission, then of course NASA would take priority”. As Crew Dragon has been developed for a NASA manned mission, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX will start testing it by the end of the year with Falcon 9 with no astronaut inside, and then 6 months later with a NASA crew and then 6 months after that will travel the 2 privates astronauts.
Most of the flight would be automatic, but the 2 passengers might have to step in if needed as it’s definitely a non-zero risk haul.
Even if SpaceX is also known for its delays, it’s an exciting time for space traveling !