Who knew all you’d have to do to get a lift into space is ask Elon Musk for a ride? ride? The CEO of SpaceX (and Tesla) says two private citizens approached the company — ostensibly wearing trench coats and carrying suitcases of cash — and asked to go on a trip around the moon. He’s planning to take them there in 2018.
He won’t be piloting the Crew Dragon spacecraft himself on the one-week trip, of course, but the ride will be privately crewed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX said in a statement on Monday.
Musk says the plan is to launch the Crew Dragon later this year and send it to the International Space Station in demonstration mode, with no humans on board. A later mission with crew is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018.
Once Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX is planning to launch the two space tourists — who have already paid a “significant deposit” for their moon mission — “on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to the Earth.”
Lift-off will occur at a familiar place: Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral, which is the pad used by the Apollo program.
“This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them,” the company said in the statement.
SpaceX expects to conduct health and fitness tests and begin initial training later this year, saying that “other flight teams have also expressed strong interest,” with more expected to follow.
Of course, just because Musk is saying two private citizens are going on a trip around in the moon in less than two years doesn’t mean it will happen. And if you can’t make it to the moon in the next few years, don’t worry: Musk also has a plan to colonize Mars that you might be into.