Watching Space from the perspective of Planet Earth is almost like a fantasy, except that science and technology continue to make it more tangible. Ever since humans first walked on the moon in 1969, many people are dreaming of stepping off our planet to explore the very mysterious universe in which we all live.
Fortunately, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is trying to make space more than just a place for astronauts to explore with announcing plans to send two tourists to the moon. The mission, which is planned to happen as soon as 2018, reportedly cost a pretty penny from each participant. It has not been released who are the two private citizens, however, sources say they must undergo fitness and health tests before they begin training this year.
“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” representatives from SpaceX said in the statement.
The two chosen passengers will have the incredible luxury for being the only people on board during an anticipated trip around the moon that will last a week.
“This would be a long loop around the moon … It would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to Earth,” said Musk. “So I’m guessing, distance-wise, maybe [300,000] or 400,000 miles [about 500,000 to 650,000 kilometers].”
The individual will be aboard a Crew Dragon, or Dragon Version 2, which hasn’t travelled to space yet. Dragon capsules have been to the International Space Station (ISS), but the crew version of the vessel and its life-support equipment will be finished at the end of this year for the first time to the ISS. The name of the mission is unknown yet.
About the cost of the mission, Musk noted: “I … can’t say the exact cost, that’s confidential. It would be comparable to maybe a little more than what the cost of a crewed mission to the space station would be.”
Currently, NASA counted out an estimated $80 million per seat on the three-person Russian Soyuz vehicle. For SpaceX’s introductory commercial crew contract with NASA, they have paid $2.6 billion, and had to ensure a minimum of two and up to six flights to the station on the Dragon capsule, capable of carrying seven passengers at a time. This means a cost of anywhere between $1.3 billion to $433 million per flight.
Musk explained that the historic trip to the moon hopefully brings the company closer to sending humans to Mars. “This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.”
“The goal for SpaceX, from its founding in 2002, has been to accelerate … space exploration, ultimately with the idea of a self-sustaining civilization on Mars and making humanity multiplanetary,” said Musk. “So a critical step along the way is getting to know what it’s like to have people in deep space.”