Elon Musk released a statement through his company, SpaceX, indicating that he will likely be sending two passengers on a moon fly-by mission by the end of 2018.
The passengers have already paid a substantial deposit for the mission which is estimated to cost around $300 million, utilizing a new Dragon 2 space capsule and a fully automated (unmanned) Falcon Heavy Rocket developed by the company. The rocket would take off from Cape Canaveral, in Florida, the same site where the SpaceX Falcon rocket has launched previously.
The private investors in the moon-and-beyond mission have yet to be disclosed, as SpaceX plans to conduct physical and health assessments to be certain the passengers can withstand the journey. Although Hollywood actors like Leonardo DiCaprio have jokingly expressed interest in a mission to mars, Musk states the investors are not “Hollywood-types.”
The mission would take these passengers, and others, as Musk has indicated there are more parties who are interested in taking the journey. The 2018 trip would travel to the moon, just skimming its surface, and then out into deep space before returning to earth.
Musk says that he hopes this will excite people about travelling into deep space, and intends for the mission to be a jumping board for travel to Mars. Musk has previously stated his ambitions for creating a colony there. Musk attests that it will one day cost as little as a small home — around $200,000 — for people to travel not to the moon, but all the way to Mars. He says it “won’t be cheap, but affordable,” and would make the most sense to colonize because it is the closest planet to earth that is habitable.
Musk states that the passengers are, “certainly not naïve” about the possible dangers of the trip to the moon and into deep space, but that SpaceX is doing everything they can to minimize that risk.
As usual, Musk has his doubters for such an aggressive timeline. Chris Newman, an expert on space policy and law at the University of Sunderland in the UK, said that Musk’s timeline and budget are “extremely ambitious, and it remains to be seen if the practical difficulties associated with human spaceflight can match this ambition.”
Musk also said that NASA would be given priority over the private investors if they wanted to participate in the mission. Specifically, Musk pointed to NASA’s financial support of his space exploration ambitions,
“Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.”
Interestingly, there have not been any reported missions to the moon by the US space agency since December 11, 1972, when Apollo 17 touched down on the Moon. This was not only our ‘final’ Moon landing, but the last time we supposedly left low Earth orbit.
Other attest that there have been many trips to the moon, and that the dark side of the moon, in fact, is already inhabited, and has been inhabited for hundreds of years.
China’s second Moon orbiter the Chang’e-2 released some high-resolution images showing what appear to be bases, or cube-like infrastructure, and numerous researchers suggest that our own military has been using the moon as an outpost for deeper space travel for some time.
There are additional NASA Apollo Mission ‘conspiracy’ theories that alien life was witnessed by the astronauts who travelled there, including the recently deceased Edgar Mitchell, who was quoted heavily in Wiki-leaked email messages to John Podesta. In an interview with Dateline NBC in 1996, Mitchell said that there were alien bodies at Roswell but the government covered it up. It wouldn’t be so far-fetched to believe the government has covered up the truth about missions to the moon.
Perhaps Elon Musk’s moon mission will finally be able to verify or debunk these claims.