BILLIONAIRE Elon Musk plans to launch a “private passenger” on a space trip around the Moon.
The mission will be operated by Musk’s SpaceX rocket company, but there’s no telling who will actually be on board.
SpaceX first announced its Moon mission back in February 2017, but details were light at the time.
The rocket firm originally planned to send two private citizens on a space trip around Earth’s closest neighbour, using the company’s Big Falcon Rocket.
However, it now seems that just one passenger will be on board.
In a tweet last night, SpaceX wrote: “SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle.”
SpaceX added that it was “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space.”
Importantly, SpaceX didn’t actually reveal who the passenger was.
Instead, Musk’s firm promised to announce the identity of the soon-to-be-astronaut on Monday, September 17.
PayPal and Tesla founder Musk is staying tight-lipped too, but offered a key hint.
Someone on Twitter said “Elon, it’s you, isn’t it?”, to which Elon Musk replied with the Japanese flag emoji.
This likely means that the person set to take part in the flight will be either Japanese, or living in Japan.
It’s also very probable that the person will be very rich – building the rocket and launching it will likely cost billions.
There’s no word on whether the passenger will have to fund the trip themselves, or if SpaceX will be picking up some (or all) of the cost.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
The mission is expected to use SpaceX’s upcoming Big Falcon Rocket system.
The 157-foot-tall spaceship sits atop a 191-foot booster rocket, and is expected to carry SpaceX’s manned missions to Mars – which Musk says may begin as soon as next year.
Musk’s lunar loop trip is a good opportunity to test the BFR before it takes aim at the red planet.
Sadly, we have no idea when the trip-around-the-Moon mission will take place.
Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969, so perhaps the trip may be timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of that historic feat next year.
This Moon trip will be a bit of much-needed positive publicity for controversial SpaceX boss Musk.
Just last week, the billionaire was propositioned by a porn firm to star in a weed-themed adult movie.
It came just days after billionaire Musk was filmed smoking weed live on camera.
The PayPal founder appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, puffing on a joint for all the world to see.
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The billionaire is also facing three potential lawsuits in different countries after accusing a British diver of being a “paedo”.
Vernon Unsworth, who helped in the rescue of children from a Thailand cave earlier this year, was attacked by Musk on Twitter.
Musk dubbed Unsworth a “paedo guy” without offering any proof, and doubled down on the accusation in several tweets sent later.
The Tesla boss did eventually apologise, but later queried why Unsworth hadn’t actually sued him – hoping to cash doubt on the diver’s character.
Unsworth is now reportedly preparing to sue Musk – who has a net worth of $20.4billion (£15.6bn) – for defamation in London, New York and Thailand.
Would you like to travel to (or around) the moon? How much would you be willing to pay? Let us know in the comments!
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