SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year (Update)

SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year (Update)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015 file photo made available by SpaceX, their Dragon capsule sits aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico's Baja Peninsula after returning from the International Space Station, carrying about 3,700 lbs of cargo for NASA. SpaceX announced Monday, Feb. 27, 2017 that it would send two paying customers to the moon next year on a private flight aboard its Dragon capsule. The company said the unnamed customers have paid "a significant deposit" for the moon trip.(AP Photo/SpaceX, File)

SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA's Apollo heyday close to half a century ago.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk—the company's founder and chief executive officer—announced the surprising news barely a week after launching his first rocket from NASA's legendary pad.

Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon, according to Musk. He won't identify the pair or the . They've already paid a "significant" deposit and are "very serious" about it, he noted.

"Fly me to the moon ... Ok," Musk said in a light-hearted tweet following the news conference.

Musk said SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This would follow about six months later, by the end of the year under the current schedule, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket launched from NASA's former moon pad in Florida.

If all goes as planned, it could happen close to the 50th anniversary of NASA's first manned flight to the moon, on Apollo 8.

The SpaceX moonshot is designed to be autonomous—unless something goes wrong, Musk said.

"I think they are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here," Musk told reporters in the telephone conference, a day after teasing via Twitter that an announcement of some sort was forthcoming.

"They're certainly not naive, and we'll do everything we can to minimize that risk, but it's not zero. But they're coming into this with their eyes open," said Musk, adding that the pair will receive "extensive" training before the flight.

Musk said he does not have permission to release the passengers' names, and he was hesitant to even say if they were men, women or even pilots. He would only admit, "It's nobody from Hollywood."

The paying would make a long loop around the moon, skimming the lunar surface and then going well beyond, perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether. It's about 240,000 miles to the moon alone, one way.

The mission would not involve a lunar landing.

"This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again," Musk said.

NASA will have first dibs on a similar mission if it so chooses, he said. The space agency learned of his plan at the same time as reporters.

In a statement, NASA commended SpaceX "for reaching higher." In all, 24 astronauts flew to the moon and 12 walked its surface from 1969 to 1972.

The California-based SpaceX already has a long list of firsts, with its sights ultimately set on Mars. It became the first private to launch a spacecraft into orbit and safely return it to Earth in 2010, and the first commercial enterprise to fly to the space station in 2012 on a supply mission.

Just a week ago, SpaceX made its latest delivery from Kennedy Space Center's legendary Launch Complex 39A, where the Apollo flew to the moon and shuttle crews rocketed into orbit. That will be where the private moon mission will originate as well.

The crew Dragon capsule—an upgraded version of the cargo Dragon—has yet to fly in space. Neither has a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is essentially a Falcon 9 rocket with two strap-on boosters, according to Musk. A Falcon Heavy test flight is planned this summer, while an empty crew capsule is set to launch to the late this year. He said there will be ample time to test both the spacecraft and the rocket, before the moon mission.

NASA last week announced it was studying the possibility of adding crew to the test flight of its megarocket, at the request of the Trump administration. Such a flight to the lunar neighborhood wouldn't happen before 2019 at best—if, indeed, that option is even implemented.

Musk said anything that advances the space exploration cause is good, no matter who goes first.

Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will celebrate his homecoming this week from a one-year space mission, was quick to tweet: "It's been almost a year. Send me!"

Musk said he expects to have more moon-mission customers as time goes by.

At the same time, SpaceX is also working on a so-called Red Dragon, meant to fly to Mars around 2020 with experiments, but no people—and actually land. His ultimate goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars.


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Feb 27, 2017
There's the best reason that I can think of to become filthy rich, the ability to do something like that.

Feb 27, 2017
Do we get to vote on who goes? Perhaps Soros and Obama would be good candidates.

Feb 27, 2017
Take some photos of the lights on the back side!

Feb 27, 2017
Lots of time on the way there and back to do some astro and solar photography. Can't wait to see the results.

Feb 27, 2017
And the suggested article under this one from Feb 18th: "Space X aborts approach to space station - ", apparently due to navigation error. I noticed they didn't say anything in the article about returning them to earth...

Feb 28, 2017
The approach abort can happen from a gamma ray strike on the GPS system. The SOP is to back off, reset the system, station keep and try tomorrow.

Feb 28, 2017
"perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether."

But 2 x 240.000 miles is 480.000 miles atleast?

Feb 28, 2017
"perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether."

But 2 x 240.000 miles is 480.000 miles atleast?

Re read the article.
They meant from Earth. So- another 60,000 to 160,000 beyond the moon. Part of the gravitational slingshot method.
Kudos to SpaceX!

Feb 28, 2017
Before sending humans in orbit, Space X should prove that they are really able to perform an unmanned mission from earth to moon and viceversa; otherwise the risk to kill the two persons is quite significant.

Feb 28, 2017
This would be the deepest manned space mission to date, another milestone for SPACEX!!!

Feb 28, 2017
I know the identity of the two persons, but I won't tell you.

...

Oh, I remembered I can't keep a secret. Ok, here they are. The two men are:

- Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and B.o.B. -

You're welcome.

Feb 28, 2017
Well, if I was Elon Musk, one of those seats would be for me -
And the other for Scarlett Johansen...

Feb 28, 2017
That will be that first time that two astronauts have orbited the moon at the same time, I believe.

Feb 28, 2017
That will be that first time that two astronauts have orbited the moon at the same time, I believe.

I don't think it's going orbital. Just a flyby...
The record is 3 astronauts (apollo 13) at over 400k miles at apogee.

Mar 08, 2017
Before sending humans in orbit, Space X should prove that they are really able to perform an unmanned mission from earth to moon and viceversa; otherwise the risk to kill the two persons is quite significant
And why would you think that? How would you know anything about relative risk?

Better question - what makes you think you know more about risk than musk and his scientists and engineers?

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