September 17, 2018
Want to take a selfie with the moon?
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded and spearheaded by Wharton alum Elon Musk, is making big moves to boost space tourism with the announcement of who will be the first private passenger to fly around the moon in one of Musk's spacecrafts.
The mystery passenger will travel in the Big Falcon Rocket, SpaceX's privately funded spacecraft designed for both Earth-orbit launches and, in the future, long-duration spaceflights. With the passenger announcement scheduled for Monday evening, Musk has been teasing the BFR design on Twitter.
Most details from this private trip are still unknown. The date of launch and the price tag attached to the experience have not been announced. The identity of the passenger will be shared Monday from California, streaming at 9:00 p.m. locally. Visit the webcast here or tune in below.
So who will the citizen astronaut be? Though the speculation has been narrowed down to the billionaires of the world, some speculate as to whether Musk's Tweet of the Japanese flag is a clue.
Despite the grand buildup around the reveal, this is not the first time private citizens planned to take tourist trips to the moon. Last year two individuals, both unnamed, reportedly put deposits down with SpaceX for a similar voyage and scheduled to take the trip this year.
That journey never happened, however, and earlier this year SpaceX confirmed that it would not take place in 2018. One possible reason for the snag: Those passengers had been expected to fly on the Falcon Heavy spacecraft, which required 18 jumbo rockets firing at full power to achieve liftoff. SpaceX has since shifted away from Falcon heavy to focus on BFR.
Musk previously said he hopes for BFR to make an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022. In 2024 he wants to send a crewed flight to the Red Planet.