If you — ordinary citizen, non-astronaut you — have been dreaming your entire life about going to the moon, your chance may be right around the corner. (The requisite caveat, of course, is that you’d have to have a boatload of money.)
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, announced Monday that it has booked a “trip around the moon late next year” for two “private citizens.” Although the space tourists won’t actually land on the moon, the trip is coming right up in 2018.
According to the announcement, the travelers "have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year."
As futuristic as all that sounds — and it does — the trip will actually mark the first time since 1972 that mankind has journeyed to the moon. If you’re counting, that’s 45 years. So the futuristic excitement is also peppered with a dose of retro, a la Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, which originally opened with the park 1955.
The rocket set for use is the Falcon Heavy, with 5 million pounds of thrust. While the launch date has yet to be set, the location will be Cape Canaveral’s Pad 39A — the launch pad used by by NASA for the Apollo’s moon missions.
The two people will travel in the Crew Dragon, a cabin which actually has room for seven. It's development was funded by NASA.
So if space travel goes the way of the luxury African safari — exotic, aspirational, ultimately the province of the wealthy, but still nominally accessible to mere mortals — would it make your bucket list, or no way?
Or perhaps it's merely not ambitious enough. But that's OK: According to SpaceX, this moon trip is an "important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars."
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