SpaceX will probably be flying two private citizens to the moon in 2018, the company has revealed.
The announcement was made by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk who announced in a statement that the two private citizens had approached the company for a trip around the moon. Musk added that they could be flying to the Moon something later next year. Musk added that the opportunity to fly private citizens to the moon and back is an opportunity for humans to return to the deep space after an interval of 45 years.
SpaceX will be conducting health and fitness tests of the private citizens and post those tests, the training is expected to commence later this year.
As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, SpaceX will launch its Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) this year. This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, without people on board, the company said. A subsequent manned mission is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2018.
“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,” SpaceX said.
SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew.
“By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions,” the company said.
Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the Moon and return to the Earth.
Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral — the same launch pad used by the Apollo programme for its lunar missions.
Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage.
These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as towards the company’s ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.