SpaceX announces new plan to send tourist around Moon

This is not the first time the California-based company, headed by Internet entrepreneur and Tesla electric car CEO Elon Musk, has touted plans to send tourists around the Moon.

Published: 14th September 2018 09:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2018 10:15 AM   |  A+A-

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (File | AP)

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (File | AP)

By AFP

LOS ANGELES: SpaceX on Thursday announced a new plan to launch a tourist around the Moon using its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), a massive launch vehicle that is being designed to carry people into deep space.

"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 travelling to space," the company said on Twitter.

SpaceX gave no further details but said more information would follow on Monday.

This is not the first time the California-based company, headed by Internet entrepreneur and Tesla electric car CEO Elon Musk, has touted plans to send tourists around the Moon.

In February 2017, SpaceX announced it would send the world's first two space tourists around the Moon in late 2018.

That plan called for them to ride on a Dragon crew vehicle, similar to the cargo ships that SpaceX routinely sends loaded with supplies to the International Space Station.

They would have blasted off aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. However, the company has remained mum about those plans in recent months. The names and identities of those two tourists -- and how much they intended to pay -- were never revealed.

SpaceX declined an AFP request for more details but said the further information would follow Monday at an event lasting from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm (0030 GMT to 0200 GMT).

Humans have not set foot on the Moon since the final Apollo mission in 1972, capping an era of US national pride.

American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to explore the lunar surface in 1969, a moment seen and heard around the world when Armstrong declared "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

" Only 24 people in history have ever been to the Moon.

US President Donald Trump has championed plans to put boots on the Moon again, as NASA works on building a lunar gateway that would serve as a launching point for missions heading even further into deep space, such as asteroids or Mars.

SpaceX is a key commercial partner to NASA, and is working on a crew ship that will make its first flight to the orbiting International Space Station next year, restoring access to space from US soil for the first time since 2011, when the space shuttle program was retired after 30 years.

Boeing is also hard at work on its crew vehicle, with pioneering flights planned for 2019 as well.

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