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SpaceX: First tourists flying around the moon by 2018?

moon SpaceX: First tourists flying around the moon by 2018?

US company SpaceX has signed a contract to send two paying passengers around the moon by the end of 2018. Should this be a success, it will represent the first flight beyond terrestrial orbit since the end of the US Apollo missions in the early 1970s.

“We are delighted to announce that SpaceX has been asked by two private individuals to provide them with a flight around the moon at the end of next year.” While the names of the future voyagers have not yet been released by SpaceX, this recent revelation by the company founded and run by billionaire Elon Musk has certainly grabbed the headlines. After all, no manned space mission has gone into lunar orbit since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

“It will be a chance for mankind to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years,” said SpaceX. “The passengers will travel faster and farther into the solar system than ever before.”

Training starts this year

The first training sessions for the would-be astronauts are set to start at some point this year, once their physical condition has been evaluated. “Other persons have expressed a keen interest” for the mission, the US company added.

The flight will be carried out on Dragon 2 – a modified version of the Dragon freight capsule designed to transport astronauts as part of a partnership between NASA and the private sector. The capsule will make its first non-manned flight to the International Space Station (ISS) this year, before taking astronauts there on behalf of NASA in the second trimester of 2018, SpaceX has reported.

“Our ultimate aim of transporting humans to Mars”

The lunar flight will take off at the Kennedy Space Centre near Cape Canaveral in Florida (USA) from the historic 39A launchpad, rented by SpaceX for the occasion and which saw the launches of the Apollo missions transporting astronauts between 1968 and 1972, and the space shuttle flights of 1981 –2011.

These missions will also represent “an important stage as part of the preparation for our ultimate aim of transporting humans to Mars”, the company proudly added.

Indeed, Musk is planning a manned flight to the red planet as early as 2024, with the objective being to set up colonies on Mars. Last year, he had already announced a non-manned mission in 2018 to the planet that has long fascinated mankind. If Musk can keep to these deadlines, he will come in a few years ahead of NASA, who are planning a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s.