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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon, Nasa involved



SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth’s only natural satellite in more than four decades, the private company said yesterday.
It did not provide details about who the would-be space tourists were, but noted they had already provided a “significant deposit” and would undergo health and fitness tests to determine if they could make the trip.
“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.
The last people on the moon were part of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
SpaceX does not plan to land on the moon, but instead to orbit around it. The US, Japan, Russia and China have all proposed manned moon missions for the coming decades, with Nasa planning a manned flight around the moon as a stepping stone to eventually travelling to Mars.
In a separate statement, Nasa commended SpaceX for “reaching higher”, describing them as “industry partners”.
“We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to US soil,” the statement said.
“For more than a decade, Nasa has invested in private industry to develop capabilities for the American people and seed commercial innovation to advance humanity’s future in space.”
It’s not known exactly how much Nasa will invest in the new project.
The SpaceX flight will use the company’s Dragon space craft, which it developed for Nasa to bring crew to the International Space Station (ISS), as part of the US space agency’s move to encourage private space flight after the retirement of its space shuttle fleet.
SpaceX is due to test a modified version of the space craft that has already been used to deliver ISS cargo, later this year. That test flight will be unmanned, but a manned flight is planned for 2018.

The company will use the same craft to fly private missions around the moon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX resumed launches of satellites in January after one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a Florida launch pad during a test fire in September, destroying the rocket and its payload.
The company, founded by Internet pioneer and entrepreneur Elon Musk, also hopes to conduct private missions to Mars in the future.
dpa

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