SpaceX is planning to take tourists around the moon in 2018
Although it has yet to complete a crewed mission, SpaceX has already booked its first passenger – actually its first two passengers, and they are in for the ride of a lifetime.
In an announcement that no one really saw coming, Elon Musk, the man that could be Iron Man if things had played out differently, let it be known that SpaceX is planning on taking two passengers around the moon at some point in 2018. Musk didn’t announce who the travelers might be, but they have apparently already put down a “significant deposit.” It’s also not clear what kind of training – if any – they will first have to undergo.
So far, the Dragon capsule has yet to have a successful test flight that reached beyond the atmosphere. SpaceX is currently aiming for a May 2017 uncrewed flight that would see the Dragon capsule dock with the International Space Station. It will spend 30 days in space in total, then land in the ocean where it will be retrieved.
Initially, the plan was to then follow that flight with the first crewed Dragon flight to space in December 2017. It looks like that date has slipped into early 2018, however, SpaceX has yet to confirm that. A few weeks ago the commercial space agency managed to successfully land a Falcon 9 rocket on solid ground without issue, so it is moving ahead at a steady pace.
The Dragon capsule can take up to seven passengers on a single flight. That would presumably mean we’d see a five man crew with two passengers on board. The capsule would then travel between 300,000 to 400,000 miles – including a lap of the moon – before splashing down in the ocean. The whole trip will last about a week, and it would almost certainly launch from the same pad the Apollo 11 mission launched from; NASA recently agreed to lease the pad to SpaceX.
There still need to be several tests before the flight can actually happen, but it’s never to early to start planning ahead for your next vacation.