In addition to plans for an astronaut-manned mission to the International Space Station in 2018, SpaceX founder Elon Musk revealed Monday that the company has already taken a deposit from two individuals who know each other for a trip to the moon and back sometime next year. As the Associated Press reports, the privately financed trip, conducted via a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket, will not include a moon landing, and the space flight will happen autonomously, barring something going wrong.
It seems like a slightly scary proposition for two civilians to be undertaking just given that one SpaceX rocket blew up two years ago, and another, carrying Facebook's first satellite, exploded on the launchpad last September. And they only made their first successful upright landing of the Falcon 9 rocket about 14 months ago. But hey! If you've got the money and you don't care if you die trying, power to you!
The pair of amateur cosmonauts have not been identified as of yet, and Musk won't say what the price tag for the weeklong journey just past the Moon and back will be costing them. He did tell the New York Times that they are "not Hollywood people."
But SpaceX may be in a hurry to complete just such a space tourism mission because last August a Bay Area competitor emerged, dubbed Moon Express, which promised a rocket design all its own and passenger trips to the moon beginning in 2018.
The Times also reminds us that this will be the first time anyone has gone further than a low Earth orbit since NASA's Apollo moon landings in 1972.
Given how violently, egregiously, New Gilded Age expensive such a trip will be, it seems kind of like a boring way to spend a whole ton of money just for bragging rights, especially because Musk promises to be sending people to Mars in a journey of 80 days or less as early as 2024, and given that no human has ever been to Mars, that is a whole lot cooler and is going to make this boomerang around the moon look PRETTY LAME in just a few short years, amirite?