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To misquote Bill Clinton’s campaign “it’s the MOON, stupid”, in what probably is one of the most exciting travel news of the recent years, SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently announced that they will be taking two tourists for a slingshot around the moon sometime in 2018.
During a press conference, Musk stated, “We’ve been approached to do a crewed mission beyond the Moon… [and these passengers] are very serious about it.” He confirmed that the company plans to use its Dragon 2 spacecraft for the mission, which will be powered by SpaceX’s Falcon heavy rocket, although one possible fly in the ointment is that the Falcon rocket remains untested, and a year is a blink of an eye when it comes to space travel.
Musk confirmed that the mission will take two private citizens on the trip around the moon. To this date, the two individuals have not been named, and it remains unclear whether they have any experience piloting anything, let alone a spacecraft. Both passengers will obviously have some training beforehand, but SpaceX has not released any details on what the training will involve.
The manned mission will be the culmination of a busy year for the Dragon 2 spacecraft, with SpaceX planning to fly an unmanned mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2017, then a manned mission to the ISS, and finally the manned mission to the Moon.
Although the timeline announced by SpaceX is ambitious, it is noteworthy that its manned mission plans have slipped before, with the company initially planning to start manned missions to the ISS in 2017.
It seems the era of space tourism is fast approaching, with NASA also planning to slingshot tourists around the moon using the Orion capsule mounted on the SLS rocket—although NASA’s plans are still several years away. While SpaceX has received a significant deposit from the two passengers, one can only wonder at the price tag of the ultimate flight, along with how lengthy the liability waiver would be. Either way, those two lucky individuals will have the experience of a lifetime.
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