Our curiosity to challenge and explore the boundaries of space has always been present throughout history. In the last century, space exploration has influenced the development of new technologies and industries, and has inspired nations to peacefully work together for a universal goal.
While NASA has kept making advancements in hopes of being able to travel to Mars and visit the moon again, a determined, passionate man and his company are planning to change the history of space travel forever.
Elon Musk, the South African inventor and business magnate whose interest began in computers, has announced a mission to fly two “tourists” to the moon next year. Musk’s company, SpaceX will have the travelers do a flyby of the lunar surface -a 240,000 mile trip before returning to Earth.
While the mission has not been fully explained, if successful, it will mark a historic landmark moment for space travel and for the private company.
“This should be a really exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again,” said Musk about the journey.
The lucky tourists, who remain anonymous, have already placed a significant deposit for the trip and will undergo extensive training and fitness tests as well as a test flight later this year. They will take off from the launch pad near Cape Canaveral in Florida, the same launch pad used in the Apollo mission in 1972.
“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” said SpaceX in a blog post.
Elon Musk and his company have assured that the groundbreaking trip will be one of the many “commercial” trips to space and have revealed their hopes of being able to send people to Mars in the future.
The automated rocket, which will be in charge of the trip around the moon, is called: Falcon Heavy. It will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world, having the ability to orbit 54 metric tons and the ability to generate more than five million pounds of thrust. While a lot of skepticism is placed on the rocket’s performance, SpaceX has scheduled it for a test flight this summer and is confident it will be successful.
Although the 2018 journey would be historic, it would not be the first time Musk’s company makes history. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial enterprise to launch a spacecraft into orbit and have it safely return to Earth and the first private company to send cargo to the International Space Station multiple times.
Besides planning to fly the two private citizens around the moon next year, SpaceX is also planning to carry NASA astronauts to the space station in 2018 as well.
“Next year is going to be a big year for carrying people to the space station and hopefully beyond,” said Musk in a conference call with reporters.
While there is still a long time for the mission to take place and for a lot to improve, one thing is certain: the future of space travel is now. NASA and companies like SpaceX continue to push boundaries and prove that possibilities are limitless.
By Laura Romero