Space tourism took another step forward last week, when SpaceX announced that they will fly two private citizens around the moon, in late 2018.
The California-based aerospace manufacturer has already operated cargo flights to the International Space Station, successfully completing return trips from Earth on multiple occasions. But passenger space flight will be a new endeavour for the company – and another leap forward for private space travel.
SpaceX commented on their blog: “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…we expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year.”
The company, founded by Elon Musk, will use SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, a super heavy-lift launch vehicle which will send the two passengers into space, on the company’s SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. In a week-long mission, they’ll get to fly close to the moon and then return to Earth.
Space X states that the Falcon Heavy will pack two-thirds the thrust of the enormous 1970s Saturn V moon rocket. And double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.
SpaceX hasn’t yet attempted a space tourism flight to the ISS. But the company has already launched two rockets successfully this year, in January and February. The most recent of which used the same historical Launchpad, 39A, that NASA used during the Apollo program.
It plans to conduct an unmanned trial flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS later this year, and then with the first astronauts on board in 2018.
Once these missions to the ISS are established, SpaceX says it will then launch its private passenger moon mission.
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