Ever dreamed about going around the Moon? Well, Elon Musk is making that dream a reality for two lucky (and wealthy) individuals.
These two people have already made a significant deposit in order to lock down their spots in making the journey with Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX.
The journey around the Moon is expected to take one week — it’ll be near the surface of the Moon (but it won’t land on the Moon), then go further into deep space and loop back to Earth, a trip that would consist of approximately 300,000 to 400,000 miles.
The trip is planned to happen during 2018 on the Crew Dragon, an automated vehicle that hasn’t been flown yet, along with the Falcon Heavy rocket technologies.
The Crew Dragon will lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A, which is the same launch site used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions.
SpaceX is looking at this as a huge opportunity to drive its revenue. It’s hoping these missions will begin to make up 10% to 20% of SpaceX’s revenue. There are millionaires out there who crave the unknown, and they’re more than willing to pay for the bragging rights that’ll come along with being one of the first “normal” people in space.
A trip to the moon and into deep space comes with risks. Once these people are launched in space, that’s where they’ll be… they can’t change their minds.
Jason Davis from The Planetary Society said:
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…
Once you fire that rocket and head towards the Moon, you can’t turn around and go home so you are really kind of on your own for about a week with no-one to come and save you if there is a problem.
Musk says these individuals understand and have agreed to the risks that will be involved with this trip. Not only that, but they’ll also be expected to go through health and fitness tests, as well as be trained before making their expedition.
There’s no way these passengers would fly into space without being accompanied by an experienced astronaut… that’s a little too much of a liability for SpaceX.
But is this another ambitious plan from Musk?
It is when talking about the accelerated timeline that Musk has in mind.
We might all remember how in 2011, Musk promised that he’d be putting people in space in just three years… and it’s now 2017.
Can we really expect private citizens to be taking trips to the moon by 2018, when the Falcon Heavy is behind its original schedule?
The Falcon Heavy was expected to already be flying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) by now. The spacecraft was set to make its first trip by 2017, but that trip might not be happening until 2019 — which is when the vehicle is expected to be certified to carry astronauts.
The Quest to be in Space
Currently, NASA pays Russia’s space agency Roscosmos around $70 million a person to fly astronauts to the ISS. That’s a lot of money that NASA could be using towards funding other projects or resources.
And that’s why NASA has been working directly with SpaceX and Boeing (NYSE: BA) on spacecraft. It wants to make it more affordable for its astronauts to go into space.
SpaceX isn’t the only company that’s making space travel even more feasible.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and his rival spaceflight company Blue Origins announced plans of taking cargo and people to low Earth orbit with their own reusable rockets.
Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origins are making it possible to reduce the overbearing costs of going into space, which will help with speeding up progress in both commercial space travel and research and exploration beyond Earth.
When the first landing of Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable rocket was a success, Bezos had this to say:
I believe this is a new Golden Age of space exploration. The first Golden Age was the ’60s. We have been treading water for a long time. We are on the verge of a new Golden Age in rocketry. I believe one day all rockets will have landing gear.
The New Shepard is scheduled to have its first crewed test flights during the second quarter of 2017.
While maybe Elon Musk’s time frame of getting civilians into space is somewhat ambitious and will most likely fall through like most of his other deadlines, that doesn’t mean it won’t be happening very soon… just probably not as soon as 2018.
And who knows if SpaceX will be the first company to make it happen.
Until next time,
Pro Trader Today