Elon Musk’s SpaceX program has confirmed that two private citizens have made significant deposits to be the first tourists to visit the moon. Two extremely wealthy people (who aren’t from Hollywood, so it’s not Lance Bass) will visit the Earth’s only satellite by completing a loop around our famous neighbor. This can all happen as early as this year, despite the hardware not even flying yet. The company will use its Dragon 2 capsule that has been shuttling supplies and people back and forth to the International Space Station. It will, of course, have modifications as it has never circumnavigated the moon.
Their website goes on to describe a bit of how the company plans on executing the orbit:
Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.
So how long would a trip like this take? “Back in the Apollo days the outbound journey would usually take between two and three days and the same for the return journey, maybe about a one-week round trip once they leave the Earth,” commented Jason Davis from the space advocacy group the Planetary Society to the BBC. “It is a little bit different than say putting an astronaut in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station because your quick return to Earth is no longer an option.
Musk said that the two passengers are well aware of the risks of such a mission, but that both will undergo “extensive training before going on the mission.”
We’ve totally found a trip to make our Instagram friends jealous.