Elon Musk’s private space exploration company SpaceX has unveiled plans to send two “private citizens” to the moon in late 2018, which would mark the first moon voyage since Apollo 17 in 1972.
There’s no details yet about who the two cosmonauts will be, but it’s likely they’ve got cash to spend. In its announcement, SpaceX said the two travellers had already paid a “significant deposit” to do a moon mission.
“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” SpaceX said.
This is the next step in Musk’s ambitious goal of landing people on Mars, which the entrepreneur outlined last year. But Musk doesn’t want to just land a few humans there, he wants to build a civilisation, reports Wired.
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“I really think there are two fundamental paths [for humans]: One path is we stay on Earth forever, and some eventual extinction event wipes us out,” Musk said.
“I don’t want to say that’s when this will occur. This is a huge amount of risk, will cost a lot, and there’s a good chance we won’t succeed. But we’re going to try and do our best.”
The two citizens heading to the moon will do so in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, with a new version called the Crew Dragon being developed with help from NASA.
And it’s likely these two won’t be the only ones, as “other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow”, says SpaceX.
Venturing into space would no doubt require conquering fears — a topic Musk has spoken on extensively in the past.
“There are just times when something is important enough that you believe in it enough that you do it in spite of fear,” Musk told Y Combinator last year.
“People shouldn’t think, ‘well I feel fear about this and therefore I shouldn’t do it’. It’s normal to feel fear.”
Conquering his fears was a key part of launching SpaceX in the first place, said Musk.
“When starting SpaceX I thought the odds of success were less than 10%, and I just accepted that actually, probably, I would just lose everything but that I would maybe make some progress,” he said.