SpaceX will send two tourists on a trip to the moon and back next year, the company writes in a press release.
Space X is ready to send two individuals on a one-week tourist trip around the moon by the end of next year.
“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.”
They contacted Space X on their own, but the company’s founder, billionaire Elon Musk, would not reveal the names of the two individuals just yet.
Musk, however, does reveal to Business Insider that they contacted the company by themselves expressing a desire to travel around the moon and that they have already paid a sum of “significant size” to make this possible.
The round trip will take around a week and the two private individuals will spend this time in one of the Space X’s automated Dragon 2-space capsules that have been developed in collaboration with NASA. But will launch into space carried by a Falcon Heavy rocket, developed and founded by SpaceX.
“NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding.”
They will need to be fully prepared for the trip, however, and will start different training programs later this year and also go through various health checks.
“We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year.”
If successful, this mission will mark the first time in more than 40 years that people are venturing into deep space beyond Earth orbit. It will also be the fastest and furthest human space mission ever.
“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.”
The lunar venture will fly some 480,000 to 640,000 kilometers, from Earth past the moon before Earth’s gravity pulls the spacecraft back into the atmosphere for a parachute landing.
Musk said that the privately funded moon expedition would take place after having successfully flown crew to the ISS as contracted by NASA, hoping that these crew-ferrying flights will begin by late 2018.