With the announcement of a new planetary system and interest in space piqued, Elon Musk picked the right time to drop a bombshell. His private space tourism company, SpaceX, will be launching two people on a flight around the moon next year.
Musk's announcement comes with the assurance that these anonymous passengers have “paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission.” Shortly, they will undergo health and fitness tests, as well as initial training for their trip in the Dragon spacecraft.
“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind,” SpaceX states, “driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.”
However, the trip will also largely be dependent on SpaceX's ability to successfully roll out the technology to make it possible. The passengers will fly on the Dragon 2 spacecraft, aided by the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is set for testing this summer.
The company, launched by Musk in 2002, is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which aids the aerospace industry in developing space transportation. The program, which pushes regular space tourism closer to reality, funded the majority of the Dragon 2's development. Later this year, Dragon 2 will be launched to the International Space Station as a part of a demonstration mission without people on board.
For its part, NASA is thrilled with the development. “NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher,” the agency wrote in a statement. “We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station.”
Watch this space to see if the journey becomes reality and who the mysterious passengers are.