The lunar mission that SpaceX is offering to private passengers is taking shape: on Friday 14th September, the company announced that it had signed up its first space tourist. The lucky traveller is set to step on board the BFR launch vehicle for a week-long trip around the Moon, though the date has not yet been announced.
On Friday 14th September, SpaceX announced that it had signed up its first private passenger for a lunar mission. The Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) will take the tourist on a trip around the Moon, reports Le Monde. For SpaceX, this “next-generation vehicle” will be “the most powerful rocket in history.” BFR will be “capable of carrying humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” its creators claimed on social media.
The first time since 1972
The mission will fly the tourist close to the Moon’s surface, to a minimum altitude of 200 kilometres. In all, the trip will last one week: enough time to reach the Moon, fly around it, and come back down to Earth. Elon Musk’s company believes it represents, “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space.”
Since the Apollo 17 mission, which was launched by NASA in December 1972, no other aircraft has flown around the Moon. However, this exploit was very nearly repeated, remembers Le Monde. In early 2017, SpaceX’s managers announced that they would send two private passengers to the Moon in 2018. These clients had even made their first payment, but the project never took off.
The lucky tourist’s space mission is not scheduled for any time in the near future. In fact, the BFR will not be fully operational for a good few years, since its launcher is still in the development phase.
These delays will give the company’s competitors plenty of time to get organised. A number of stakeholders are eager to get their hands on a share of the space tourism market. Among them are Blue Origin’s New Shepherd rocket project, created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity developed by Virgin Galactic.
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