On Monday, February 27, Elon Musk shared with the public the details of the SpaceX plans.
The lovable mad genius Elon Musk has just announced that he will send space tourists on a moon mission in 2018.
Two multi-millionaire space tourists have already paid a deposit for the deep space flight. They will have paid in the tens of thousands – maybe much more. A decade ago, Russia charged space tourists $20 million to take a trip to the International Space Station (ISS).
Musk told the media that throughout the next year the space tourists will undergo extensive fitness tests. They will undertake the appropriate training, and once deemed able to fly, SpaceX will announce their names.
The plan for this space tourism is to fly tourists in an orbit around the moon, “skimming the surface“.
They will loop out into deep space briefly before swinging back around and heading back to earth. The journey will last around a week and retrace the steps of the Apollo 8’s original path. They will even launch from the same launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The space tourists will be the first humans to have traveled past low Earth orbit since the final 1972 Apollo mission. Some satellites also orbit at their height. It is unknown whether a member of the SpaceX team will travel with them.
This will be quite a contrast for these multi-millionaire space tourists who normally indulge in 5-star meals 3 times a day
Their experience on board the Dragon 2 will be extremely cramped. The internal volume of the spacecraft is only 10 cubic meters. Going to the bathroom, sleeping, and eating will have to take place within those cramped conditions.
They may be a little stinky by the time they return to Earth, however. Due to limited space for water supplies, they will not be able to shower or bathe.
And food will not be of the nature that astronauts on the ISS enjoy. It will be a culinary throwback to the nutrition packs of the Apollo era.
Musk also announced that he intends this moon charter flight to be the first of many. He claims he has a waiting list of super-rich people who also want to indulge in space tourism.
Obviously, the SpaceX tourist space travel announcement has aroused criticism
Musk does have a habit of overpromising and under-delivering on schedule. And the timeline for this space tourist mission is aggressive.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft. What concerns some is that neither has been flown or tested yet. The Falcon Heavy is set to have its initial test launch in the summer.
Dragon 2 will make a demonstration mission to the ISS in automatic mode
Later this year also, it will not contain any passengers. SpaceX hopes to send a crew on the Dragon 2 to ISS mid-2018.
Musk claims these tests will be sufficient to allay security fears some hold for the pending space tourists. But SpaceX has a history of hastiness that has lead to errors.
SpaceX has a history of their crafts exploding even before a launch. This is concerning as they intend to man their craft first, before filling it with fuel.
Even Virgin Galactic have witnessed a pilot die in an accident, and they have been far more meticulous in their preparations
Virgin Galactic have already been taking space tourists as far as the suborbital level. Dragon 2 has not had any life support systems installed or tested. This can be one of the trickiest parts of deep space travel.
There is also no backup craft. When the Apollo 13 crew found themselves in trouble, they were able to use the lunar module to bring them home to safety.
SpaceX has a very short time frame to reach what many feel are unrealistic goals. However, the ever overly optimistic Musk is in charge. All we can do is watch how his plans pan out and hope everything goes smoothly.