SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled an ambitious plan yesterday to fly two private space tourists around the moon in 2018. The move drew a commendation from NASA along with a clear reminder that the agency expects SpaceX to meet its other obligations while pursuing the moon.
In a teleconference with reporters Monday (Feb. 27), Musk said SpaceX will launch two paying passengers around the moon using the company's Dragon crew capsule and massive Falcon Heavy rocket. Both vehicles are scheduled for unpiloted test flights later this year.
"NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher," NASA officials wrote in a statement. "We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station."
SpaceX's Dragon Version 2 spacecraft is a manned space capsule designed to fly seven astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit.
See how SpaceX's Dragon V2 spacecraft works in this Space.com infographic.
Under the SpaceX plan, passengers would take a trip on Dragon and loop around the moon, "skimming" above the lunar surface at the closest point and flying out up to 400,000 miles (650,000 kilometers) from Earth at the farthest point. The entire trip should last five days, Musk said.
Read More: Space.com
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