SpaceX to launch investors on 1-week trip around the moon
01 Mar 2017
During a conference call with reporters yesterday Elon Musk said SpaceX planned to launch investors on a roughly 1-week mission around the moon.
"I hope this gets people really excited about sending people into deep space again," Musk said.
He added that the two passengers wanted their identity and other details about their background, to remain undisclosed as they were private citizens and were "very serious about it."
The space trip would be made in a fully autonomous version of the company's Dragon 2 pilotless spacecraft. The mission would launch in late 2018 aboard the upcoming Falcon Heavy launch system.
SpaceX would use Cape Canaveral's Launchpad 39A - the same pad from which Apollo astronauts were launched in the 1960s and 1970s for the mission.
Musk added, from there, they would "skim the surface of the moon" in a wide loop, go out past the moon, travel into deep space, and then return to earth.
SpaceX revealed the details about the mission in a blog post, "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.
"Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. 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.
"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 5 million pounds of liftoff 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."