SpaceX is suddenly over the moon about space tourism.
Actually, make that around the moon. The company announced Feb. 27 that it’s soon to begin training two paying customers for a trip around the astronomical body on SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket and new Dragon 2 crew capsule.
“We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year,” the Hawthorne, Calif,-based rocket company said. “They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission.
“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,” the SpaceX announcement continued. “We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow.”
To date, SpaceX has operated mainly as a rockets-and-launch services provider for NASA and commercial clients, generally those sending satellites into low-Earth orbit. Falcon Heavy, an upgraded version of the current Falcon 9, is intended for deep-space missions — with Mars, not the Moon — as a primary destination.
“We would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible,” SpaceX said.
It said the agency’s contracts have helped it continue with its growth as a company and development of new rockets. The Falcon Heavy is schedule to get a first test launch in the summer.
Though many details of the privately purchased trip around the Moon remain unclear, the company noted the launch site will be at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk had teased the announcement with a day-earlier Twitter post about a big impending announcement.
Once the news was out, he tweeted: “Fly me to the moon … Ok.”