Two passengers will board the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft in late 2018 headed for the moon. They have already paid “a significant deposit” for their seats. However, because they are private citizens and not astronauts, the spot could be open for more passengers in the future. The names of the two individuals taking the first trip have not yet been released as they are currently undergoing medical evaluations to test for fitness.
If the mission is successful, there will probably be a waiting list for trips to the moon. There are already flight teams interested in taking the fitness tests and preparation training that will follow. The Falcon Heavy rocket will be used to help launch the spacecraft into orbit. NASA is credited for providing most of the funding for the development of the Dragon.
The first mission to launch will be a demonstration only mission without people aboard. During the second quarter of 2018, a crew will board the spacecraft to test the mission. It will be the first time in 45 years that humans have been able to return to “deep space” on a mission that will send them traveling faster and farther than ever before.
The founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, described the space mission. “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.” The Dragon is designed to operate on automatically without the necessity for crew interaction. Crew members will be trained to engage emergency controls if necessary.
Musk is closed-mouth about what the actual cost of a passenger seat on such a space flight costs, stating that is confidential information. He did give a comparison stating the cost of the trip will be, maybe a little more than what the cost of a crewed mission to the space station would be.”
Most of us still have no idea how much that is. Nasa is said to have paid as much as $80 million per seat for a three-member crew aboard the Russian Soyuz space vehicle. SpaceX signed its first contract with the agency for $2.6 billion. So it is safe to guess a seat aboard a space flight will cost many millions and maybe into the billions. Going to the moon and back is only part of the mission. SpaceX would eventually like to be able to send humans to Mars.
How much would you pay to go to the moon if you had the money? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.