The company SpaceX announced on February 27 that it will take two private individuals on a trip around the Moon in late 2018. Those two people have made a major payment for a lunar mission. As the Apollo astronauts did, these tourists will travel to space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humanity, driven by the human spirit of exploration, SpaceX said in a statement.The company expects to conduct physical and health tests, and also begin initial training by the end of this year.
Without NASA, this would not be possible, according to SpaceX. NASA's commercial manned flight program which provided most of the funding for the development of the Dragon 2 capsules, is a key facilitator for this mission. In addition, use of the Falcon Heavy rocket that was developed with internal funding of SpaceX. Falcon Heavy has its first test flight scheduled for the next few months and, if successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V lunar rocket.
At the end of this year, as part of the NASA program, SpaceX will launch its Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, with no people on board. A later crewed mission is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018. Currently, SpaceX has been hired to conduct an average of four Dragon 2 missions per year to the ISS, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew. By flying also private manned missions, something that NASA has stimulated, lower long-term costs to the government and obtains a more reliable flight record, benefiting both government and private missions.
Once Crew Dragon's operational missions are running for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the Moon and return to Earth. The launch will be from the historic Kennedy Space Center 39A ramp near Cape Canaveral; The same platform used by the Apollo program. This represents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and travel faster and farther into the Solar System.
Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon ship has a long legacy of flights. These missions will build on that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone in working toward the ultimate goal of bringing humans to Mars.