SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018

SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018, by Calla Cofield.

SpaceX will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018, the company’s founder Elon Musk announced Monday (Feb. 27).

The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company’s Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have “already paid a significant deposit” for the cost of the mission, according to a statement from the company. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission, the statement said.

The two passengers will be the only people on board what is expected to be about a weeklong trip around the moon, according to Musk, who spoke with reporters during a phone conference today.

“This would be a long loop around the moon … It would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to Earth,” Musk said during the teleconference. “So I’m guessing, distance-wise, maybe [300,000] or 400,000 miles [about 500,000 to 650,000 kilometers].” …

The crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will operate, in large part, autonomously, so the passengers would have to train for emergency procedures but would not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft, Musk said. The crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft will operate, in large part, autonomously, so the passengers would have to train for emergency procedures but would not be in charge of piloting the spacecraft, Musk said.