SpaceX signs first passenger for lunar BFR mission
Guess what, SpaceX announced on September 13, 2018, it has signed “the world’s first private passenger” for a flight around the Moon aboard its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). But for now, the spaceflight company’s boss Elon Musk is keeping the identity of the passenger, or shall we say, client, under wraps.
Two lines – that is what SpaceX’s announcement contained: “SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle—an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space.”
As of today, as SpaceX goes on to keenly remind, only 24 humans in total have traveled to the Moon. The last time it was visited was during the last Apollo mission in 1972 (that is 46 years ago!). However, the passenger aboard SpaceX's first private flight will be the eighth-ever space tourist to leave the Earth's exosphere, The Drive writes.
And this new mission is not that new at all. Back in February 2017, SpaceX announced that two private passengers, also unidentified, had signed up for a week-long trip around the Moon, which the company aimed to launch by the end of 2018, Space.com reported at the time. That mission was to use the company’s Dragon spacecraft and Falcon Heavy rocket.
SpaceX never followed through with that plan, but it looks like it is keen on making the recent promise a reality. The fanfare around the spaceflight company’s announcement seems to be building up, especially regarding the identity of the passenger, with most expecting someone with celebrity status (might it be Musk himself?).
When asked on Twitter if Musk would be the mystery passenger, the outspoken SpaceX founder replied with a Japanese flag emoji, prompting speculation that the tourist is from Japan.
But our suspense will not last long – SpaceX says the identity and details of the passenger flight will be announced on September 17, 2018, during a webcast event starting at 6 pm (PT).
SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle—an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space. Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17. pic.twitter.com/64z4rygYhk— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 14, 2018
In case you missed it, SpaceX has been on a high recently: on September 10, 2018, the company completed its 16th mission of the year, successfully launching a 15,564 lbs. (7,060 kg) Telstar 18 Vantage communications satellite (the second heaviest ever launched) into space on the Falcon 9 rocket, Space.com reports.
The BHR launch vehicle and spacecraft system, to be used on the (upcoming, we hope) lunar mission, is a two-stage, reusable, super-heavy-lift space transportation system capable of ferrying people and cargo to and from Mars. Do not forget, another major project on Musk’s mind – launching the SpaceX’s first cargo mission to Mars in 2022, and manned missions to the Red Planet just two years after that.
In the main picture above: SpaceX BFR docks with the International Space Station (image source: SpaceX).
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