In jaw-dropping space news today, SpaceX — an aerospace manufacturer and transport company founded by Elon Musk — announced that two “private citizens” have just booked a “trip around the moon late next year.” That’s right, SpaceX is planning on sending two people to the moon in 2018.
While these space tourists won’t actually land on the lunar surface, this will mark the first time since 1972 that mankind has ventured to the moon. Since then, the last 45 years of manned space travel have been limited to the Earth’s orbit. So this would be a spectacular feat for SpaceX and for the future of private spaceflight.
The launch date hasn’t been scheduled yet, but the flight will take off from an historical location: Cape Canaveral’s Pad 39A. Fittingly, this is the launch pad that was used by NASA for the Apollo program’s lunar missions.
The spacecraft that will power the historic journey is expected to be the Falcon Heavy rocket. At 5 million pounds of thrust, it’ll be the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V, with more than double the thrust of the next-largest rocket. The price for this trip has not yet been disclosed.
The two-man team will travel through space in the “Crew Dragon,” a cabin with space for up to seven astronauts. With its development funded by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the Crew Dragon was originally intended to ferry astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station (ISS). Unmanned supply missions to the ISS using the Crew Dragon will begin later in 2017, with manned missions scheduled for mid-2018.
Wondering if you can redeem miles/points to travel to space? While there aren’t any options to our knowledge right now, Virgin Australia’s Velocity program gave Australian travelers a chance to win and then redeem 25 million points for a seat onboard the first Virgin Galactic space mission. Sadly — or perhaps wisely given the current delays with the Virgin Galactic spacecraft — the winner chose a shopping spree instead.
Featured image courtesy of Kevork Djansezian / Stringer via Getty Images.
How much would you pay — in points, miles or cash — for a trip around the moon?
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