Elon Musk’s SpaceX hasn’t even attempted a single manned launch yet, but today they announced that 2018 will see them take two private citizens on a trip around the moon and back.
In a press conference today, Musk revealed that SpaceX had been approached by two private citizens about the prospect of sending them on a manned spaceflight. While the identity of the two citizens has remained a secret, a blog post on the company’s official website stated the pair had already put down a “significant deposit” for the trip. So, if it’s “significant” to SpaceX, you can be sure that it’s a staggering amount to us normal folk.
(The private space tourists will be able to take in the view out of the Dragon 2 spacecraft’s multiple portholes, all from the comfort of their carbon fiber seats. – Credit: SpaceX)
In a press conference, Musk said the trip would utilize SpaceX’s Dragon 2 spacecraft and Falcon Heavy rocket, the former of which is scheduled for an unmanned cargo trip to the International Space Station by the end of the year. The mission will see these two wealthy adventurers embarking on a week-long voyage spanning up to 400,000 miles, all with minimal training.
If you’re skeptical about whether or not this will actually happen as early next year, you’re well within your rights. SpaceX, and Elon Musk in particular, are famous for overpromising and missing deadlines. It wasn’t that long ago that Musk was promising that he would have humans on the surface of Mars by 2021, a deadline that was later pushed back to 2024. In 2011, Musk also promised that SpaceX would see manned space travel in full swing by 2014….and we all know where we stand with that one.
(Falcon heavy will become the most powerful operational rocket in the world when it makes its maiden test voyage later this year. – Credit: SpaceX)
Despite all this, the SpaceX founder remained steadfast in his commitment to 2018 being a landmark year in the company’s history. “Next year is going to be the big year for carrying people,” said Musk, referring to the fact that they’re also scheduled to take a crew of NASA astronauts to the ISS in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX’s official statement was careful to point out the fact that private citizens will only be traveling into space once the NASA missions are successfully underway.
Pipedream or not, SpaceX plans for these private trips to become a regular affair, so if you happen to have a “significant” amount of money stashed under your mattress, you too could join this new wave of casual millionaire astronauts.