SpaceX set to shoot for the moon

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

Elon Musk said Monday that his private rocket company will send two paying customers on a flight around the moon. Although we knew that the moon trips were going to happen we never expected them to start in a year's time. This year, SpaceX is scheduled to send the craft to the International Space Station in a "demonstration mission [that] will be in automatic mode, without people on board." . That's the site of historic moon missions like Apollo 11.

The passengers will ride in the Dragon 2 shuttle, which will be powered by the Falcon Heavy rocket, which provides 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust.

The capsule would orbit around the moon and then sling-shot back to Earth - about a week-long trip, said Musk. The first Falcon Heavy launch is planned for sometime in early 2017. SpaceX is targeting a launch this summer.

"Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth", the release stated.

Later this year, the company will launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station without a crew. As the Verge notes, "The Crew Dragon is an automated vehicle; the system will operate autonomously for most of the flight".




Lift-off will take place at Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A, the same launch pad used by the Apollo program, Musk notes.

They approached SpaceX about the trip and will be the only people onboard, the company said.

"They're certainly not naive, and we'll do everything we can to minimize that risk, but it's not zero". "We'll do everything we can to minimize the risk, but it's not zero".

"NASA always has first priority, so if NASA decides to have the first mission of this nature be a NASA mission", Musk said.

Musk hailed the mission on Twitter with a simple message: "Fly me to the moon... OK".

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