Elon Musk has made a very Elon Musk announcement: mentioning, via a Tweet, that SpaceX is going to send two tourists to the Moon and back by the end of next year.
That’s pretty ambitious for a company that hasn’t tested its heavy lift rocket yet. But whoever the two people are, they’ve already plopped down a deposit on the flight and are training for their mission to where humanity hasn’t visited in person since 1972.
Whoever the anonymous duo is, they’ll strap into a Dragon 2, be lifted by the Falcon Heavy (which is, no lie, three Falcon 9s strapped together), and fly around the Moon before coming back to Earth. This will all reportedly happen at the end of next year, just a few months after the Dragon 2 was to haul its first occupants to the International Space Station via a contract with NASA.
But the Falcon Heavy has been behind schedule almost since it was announced. The vehicle, three first stages strapped side-by-side with payload sitting on top of the center stage, was announced in 2005 and slated for a 2013 launch once the dust settled, but no launch test has transpired since. Issues with Falcon 9 have set that date back a few times, though a test is reportedly coming in the next few months. In addition, NASA has been preparing for the possibility that the Dragon 2 and its Boeing competitor, the Starliner, may not take ISS occupants up until 2019.
So to you lucky space tourists … enjoy your flight next year. Or maybe the year after that. Or, barring that, 2020. Make that 2022.