SpaceX Already Has Customers for 2018 Moon Flight

Elon Musk announced a bold new SpaceX mission for 2018, flying two passengers in a full orbit of the Moon. This Moon Flight will be the first entirely private passenger flight that’s ever been attempted, without the benefit of broader government support — an achievement with new possibilities and new dangers.

The passengers, who each paid a “significant deposit,” will undergo health and fitness tests and begin initial training later this year, the company said in a blog post Monday. SpaceX didn’t identify the two citizens or say how much they spent to book the trip that will use the Falcon Heavy, a new rocket in development that SpaceX has yet to fly.

“It’s a pretty big mouthful to take two private citizens to orbit the moon,” Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst with Teal Group, an aerospace and defense market researcher, said in an interview. “It’s pretty risky; these are private citizens, which is different from an astronaut.”

The private two person crew would fly aboard a human rated Dragon on a long looping trajectory around the moon and far beyond on an ambitious mission lasting roughly eight days. That could blastoff by late 2018. If all goes well with rocket and spacecraft currently under development, but not yet flown.

SpaceX Moon Flight SpaceX

“This would do a long leap around the moon,” Musk said. “We’re working out the exact parameters, but this would be approximately a week long mission – and it would skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit farther out into deep space, and then loop back to Earth. I’m guessing probably distance wise, maybe 300,000 or 400,000 miles.”

The private duo would fly on a ‘free return’ trajectory around the Moon – but not land on the Moon like NASA did in the 1960s and 1970s.

Musk declined to state the cost – but just mentioned it would be more than the cost of a Dragon seat for a flight to the space station, which is about $58 million.