Space Exploration Technologies, popularly known as SpaceX is planning to send two customers on a tourist trip around the moon next year. They would be using a spaceship which is under development for NASA astronauts and a heavy-lift rocket.
The launch of the first privately funded tourist flight beyond the orbit of the International Space Station can be expected by late 2018.
As per SpaceX chief Elon Musk, NASA would take priority and if the space agency decides that it wants to be the first in line for this lunar orbit mission.
As of now, NASA is conducting a study to assess safety risks, costs and potential benefits of letting astronauts fly on the debut test flight of its heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule.
Musk said the privately funded moon expedition would take place after crew from SpaceX will fly to the International Space Station for NASA. NASA is hoping those crew-ferrying flights to begin by late 2018.
SpaceX's own Falcon Heavy rocket, which Musk wants to use for his own lunar tourist mission, is scheduled to make a debut test flight later this year. SpaceX's two-person lunar venture are expected to fly some 300,000 to 400,000 miles from Earth past the moon before Earth's gravity pulls the spacecraft back into the atmosphere for a parachute landing. That trajectory would be similar to NASA's 1968 Apollo 8 mission beyond the moon and back.
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