SpaceX is forging ahead with its plans to launch tourists into space, today announcing that it has signed a contract with an unknown individual who will become the world's first private passenger to fly around the Moon.
The private space company first shared its plans to send paying customers into space in February 2017, targeting a late 2018 launch date, but has stayed relatively mum since. It said at the time that two individuals had already laid down a deposit to fly to and around the Moon in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, which would be fired into orbit aboard the Falcon Heavy rocket.
That those plans have been pushed back isn't all that surprising, but the change of approach is. In a tweet today, SpaceX revealed it has locked in its first private space tourist, and that they would be fired into space aboard a rocket that the company hasn't even finished developing yet.
"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 traveling to space," the company tweeted. "Find out who's flying and why on Monday, September 17."
The tweet was accompanied by an image (seen above) showing a new version of the BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, a 106-meter-tall (350-ft) vehicle SpaceX plans to eventually use to send people to Mars. CEO Elon Musk responded to a question about who this mysterious individual might be with an emoji of the Japanese flag, suggesting SpaceX's very first private passenger may hail from across the Pacific.
As the company pointed out in a followup tweet, only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history, with 46 years having passed since we last paid the satellite a visit. Given the uncertainties around rocket development timelines and spacefaring, we'll have to wait and see how many more will pass before we return, but come Monday we'll at least find out what SpaceX has in mind.
Source: SpaceX (Twitter)
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