Following recent news that NASA discovered seven new exoplanets comes another story that’s rocking space-fans everywhere. SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and transport company founded by Elon Musk, just announced that two private citizens have booked a trip around the moon in late 2018.
Though the interstellar tourists won’t actually land on the lunar surface, they will be the first humans to venture to the moon since 1972. Their journey will begin at Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral in Florida, the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for their lunar missions.
After lift-off, they’ll circumnavigate the moon and explore a stretch of deeper space before returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.
“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,” said the SpaceX announcement. “We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year.”
NASA expressed support for the daring undertaking.
“NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher,” NASA officials wrote in a statement. “We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station.”
The historic mission will take place aboard the Dragon 2 spacecraft, which will be carried to orbit by the ultra-powerful, not-yet-tested Falcon Heavy rocket. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the second most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket.
Call us crazy, but something tells us an adventure of this calibre can’t come cheap. SpaceX didn’t release an exact figure, but noted that the travellers – whose names have not been revealed – paid “a significant deposit” for the privilege of leaving Earth’s atmosphere.
We might save up for Mars instead.