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SpaceX Moon mission: the latest news about Elon Musk's plans for a trip around the Moon

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On February 27th, Elon Musk announced SpaceX’s ambitious plan to send two private citizens on a trip around the Moon. The two space tourists have already put down a substantial deposit towards the trip, which Musk says could happen as soon as late 2018. We don’t know how much the mission will cost, or what its prospects are for success. But it could kick off the first public-private space race between the private company and NASA.

  • Loren Grush

    Mar 3, 2017

    Loren Grush

    With its Moon announcement, did SpaceX kick off the first public-private space race?

    SpaceX shocked the spaceflight community yesterday by announcing a new ambitious goal for 2018: sending two people around the Moon. The two passengers are not NASA astronauts; they are, instead, wealthy tourists, who have already put down a “significant deposit” for the trip. If SpaceX pulls this mission off, it will be the first private company to take civilians beyond lower Earth orbit.

    The mission also mimics a possible NASA plan. A few weeks ago, the White House asked NASA to look into the possibility of putting people on the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the giant rocket NASA is building to take astronauts into deep space and, hopefully, onto Mars. That’s a change to the original SLS flight plan, which was for an uncrewed launch in 2018. NASA is now considering a crewed flight before the end of 2019 instead, which would take passengers on a round trip around the Moon.

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  • Rachel Becker

    Feb 28, 2017

    Rachel Becker

    How much are SpaceX tourists actually paying to fly around the Moon?

    Artist’s rendering of Crew Dragon in orbit by SpaceX
    Artist’s rendering of Crew Dragon in orbit.
    Photo: SpaceX

    Two mystery space tourists put down a “significant deposit” with SpaceX to take a round-trip around the Moon, CEO Elon Musk announced yesterday. Musk didn’t say much about the two unidentified passengers, let alone how much money they’re shelling out for their Moon voyage. Turns out, it’s remarkably difficult to guess the costs of human spaceflight.

    That’s because, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot that goes into launching someone into space. There are the obvious costs: the spacecraft, the rocket, and the fuel. But then there are the less obvious, just as key, costs: the years and equipment needed to train the astronauts, building and maintaining the launchpad, paying the people on the ground in mission control, having rescue plans and personnel ready to get the astronauts or space tourists to safety if there’s an emergency. And that’s just the short list.

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  • Russell Brandom

    Feb 28, 2017

    Russell Brandom

    SpaceX’s Moon flight will be the first truly private ticket to space


    Yesterday, Elon Musk announced a bold new SpaceX mission for 2018, flying two as-yet-unnamed passengers in a full orbit of the Moon. This will be the first entirely private passenger flight that’s ever been attempted, without the benefit of broader government support — an achievement with new possibilities and new dangers.

    People have paid for the privilege of reaching orbit before — seven of them, in fact. Musk’s passengers will be going farther, slingshotting around the Moon, and they won’t be tagging along on an existing mission, either.

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  • Feb 28, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    What we can learn about SpaceX’s trip to the Moon from the Apollo 8 mission


    SpaceX’s surprise announcement yesterday that it would send two private citizens around the Moon next year may mark a huge milestone: the private space industry’s version of the Apollo 8. That mission was a precursor to more advanced lunar exploration for NASA, and paved the way for the first lunar landing. The lessons of Apollo 8 may give us hints of what’s next for SpaceX’s Moon ambitions.

    The Apollo 8 mission helped NASA prepare for landing on the Moon. SpaceX will face some similar challenges on its lunar mission. Like Apollo 8, Elon Musk’s customers won’t be able to return to Earth in the event that something goes wrong; they’ll be on their own for the mission, which is expected to last a week. That includes illness — one of the Apollo 8 astronauts got sick during the mission, for instance. And the mission will be a test of SpaceX’s craft: it must perform precise maneuvers in order to reach the Moon and return. This is far more complicated than the trips to the ISS SpaceX routinely takes. To understand a little bit more about the SpaceX mission, it might be helpful to know your Apollo 8 history.

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  • Sean O'Kane

    Feb 27, 2017

    Sean O'Kane

    The millionaire tourists on SpaceX's Moon trip better document the whole thing

    earthrise (nasa)

    It’s a shame that we haven’t been to the Moon in more than 40 years, because the photos and videos from those trips gave humans an incredible perspective on existence. The imagery that the Apollo 8 astronauts captured of the Earth “rising” over the Moon showed our planet for what it truly is: just a ball of rock and water that’s suspended in a void.

    Now that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced that two tourists are paying his company for a new trip around the Moon, all I can think of are all the ways I want these two mystery millionaires to document the trip. I’m not talking reality show style — I just want the raw imagery. Here are just a few ideas rattling around in my head:

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  • Chaim Gartenberg

    Feb 27, 2017

    Chaim Gartenberg

    Why on earth would you pay millions of dollars to fly around the Moon?

    moon surface wikimedia

    SpaceX announced today that it will be sending two (currently) anonymous citizens to orbit the Moon sometime in 2018. While there’s obviously many logistical, technical, and scientific questions that will undoubtedly be asked in the coming days about this venture, we’re going to try and answer perhaps the biggest one: why?

    As JFK famously said in 1962, “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Going to the Moon in this decade though, is also really, really expensive. For reference, a seat on a trip to the ISS costs NASA around $80 million a person, so we’re looking at two people with at least $100–150 million to spare, each.

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  • Feb 27, 2017

    Angela Chen and Loren Grush

    SpaceX plans to send two people around the Moon

    SpaceX has plans to send two private citizens around the Moon, CEO Elon Musk announced today.

    It will be a private mission with two paying customers, not NASA astronauts, who approached the company. The passengers are "very serious" about the trip and have already paid a "significant deposit," according to Musk. The trip around the Moon would take approximately one week: it would skim the surface of the Moon, go further out into deep space, and loop back to Earth — reaching a distance of approximately 300,000 to 400,000 miles.

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