SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA's Apollo heyday close to half a century ago.Tech billionaire Elon Musk — the company's founder — announced the surprising news Monday. Two people who know...

SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA's Apollo heyday close to half a century ago.Tech billionaire Elon Musk — the company's founder — announced the surprising news Monday. Two people who know...

27 February 2017 Monday 18:03
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SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA's Apollo heyday close to half a century ago.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk — the company's founder — announced the surprising news Monday.

Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon, according to Musk. He won't identify the pair or the price tag. They've already paid a "significant" deposit, he noted.

Musk said SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This moon mission would follow about six months later, by the end of the year under the current schedule, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket.

The moon mission is designed to be autonomous — unless something goes wrong, Musk said.

"I think they are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here," Musk told reporters in a telephone news conference, a day after teasing via Twitter that an announcement of some sort was forthcoming.

"They're certainly not naive, and we'll do everything we can to minimize that risk, but it's not zero. But they're coming into this with their eyes open," said Musk, adding that the pair will receive "extensive" training before the flight.

SpaceX's Elon Musk elaborates on plan to colonize Mars Tribune news services

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given more details about his plan to colonize Mars.

Musk answered questions on Reddit on Sunday. The session was a follow up to Musk's comments at a space conference in Mexico last month during which he unveiled his plan to send up to 1 million people to Mars within the...

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given more details about his plan to colonize Mars.

Musk answered questions on Reddit on Sunday. The session was a follow up to Musk's comments at a space conference in Mexico last month during which he unveiled his plan to send up to 1 million people to Mars within the...

(Tribune news services)

Musk said he does not have permission to release the passengers' names, and he was hesitant to even say if they were men, women or even pilots. He would only admit, "It's nobody from Hollywood."

The passengers would make a long loop around the moon, skimming the lunar surface and then going well beyond, perhaps 300,000 or 400,000 miles distance altogether. The mission won't involve a lunar landing, according to Musk.

It's about 240,000 miles to the moon alone, one way.

NASA will have first dibs on a similar mission if it so chooses, Musk said. The space agency learned of his plan at the same time as reporters, and was busy preparing a statement following the announcement.

"This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again," he said.

The crew Dragon capsule has not yet flown in space. Neither has a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is essentially a Falcon 9 rocket with two strap-on boosters, according to Musk. He said there will be ample time to test both the spacecraft and the rocket, before the moon mission.

Space X's Elon Musk offers glimpse of plans for 'self-sustaining city on Mars' Christian Davenport

Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket is grounded, after blowing up for a second time. The maiden flight of its more powerful Falcon Heavy has been delayed again and again.

But Musk, never one to shy away from grand pronouncements, introduced SpaceX's conceptual plans here Tuesday for a rocket and spacecraft...

Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket is grounded, after blowing up for a second time. The maiden flight of its more powerful Falcon Heavy has been delayed again and again.

But Musk, never one to shy away from grand pronouncements, introduced SpaceX's conceptual plans here Tuesday for a rocket and spacecraft...

(Christian Davenport)

Musk expects to have more moon-mission customers as time goes by.

Just late last week, NASA announced it was studying the possibility of adding crew to the test flight of its megarocket, at the request of the Trump administration. Such a flight to the lunar neighborhood wouldn't happen before 2019 at best — if, indeed, that option is even implemented.

Musk said anything that advances the space exploration cause is good, no matter who goes first.

"This should be incredibly exciting," he said.

SpaceX is also working on a so-called Red Dragon, meant to fly to Mars around 2020 with experiments, but no people — and actually land.

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