SpaceX said it has signed the first private moon traveller, with some changes to its original game plan. It’s not the same mission SpaceX founder Elon Musk outlined last year. The original plan called for two paying passengers to fly around the moon this year, using a Falcon Heavy rocket and a Dragon crew capsule.
At the time, Musk said the pair approached SpaceX about sending them on a weeklong flight and paid a “significant” deposit for the trip.
The new strategy is to still fly around the moon but using an even bigger SpaceX rocket still in development that has its own dedicated passenger ship. And now, it appears there will be only one person aboard.
Recently Musk also cryptically responded to a Tweet implying a billionaire, the probable mystery passenger, posting a Japanese flag emoji that strongly points towards Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son as the prime candidate for this lunar launch. Through his influential Softbank Vision Fund (SVF), essentially a $100 billion pool of money that is being gradually invested in certain companies and ideas, Masayoshi Son has become a force to be reckoned with in technology industries, and is believed to have invested a staggering $1.5 billion alone in prospective satellite internet constellation OneWeb.
Given that this new BFR rocket, as it’s dubbed, has yet to be built, the flight presumably is at least a few years off.
SpaceX put out the teaser via Twitter late Thursday, and Musk also tweeted out the news.
Musk’s ultimate goal is to colonize Mars. This lunar mission — a flyby, not a landing — represents “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space,” SpaceX said in a tweet.
On its website, SpaceX is touting the “first passenger on lunar BFR mission,” implying there will be more.
This could be humanity’s first lunar visit since 1972, depending on how NASA’s latest moon plans shape up. 24 NASA astronauts flew to the moon from 1968 through 1972, and only 12 of them strolled its dusty surface. Next July will mark the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.