Wednesday January 16, 2019
Home Lead Story Private Space...

Private Space Firm SpaceX Will Soon Send First Private Passenger To Moon

The new heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing for deep-space missions -- known as the Space Launch System -- could serve as a core component of a moon trip.

0
//
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia.

In a step that commercialises space travel, US private space firm SpaceX on Friday announced that it will send the first private passenger to Moon and will reveal his identity on Monday.

The tourist will fly in the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) being designed to carry people into deep space, the Elon Musk led company said in a tweet.

“SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle — an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space.

“Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17,” the tweet said.

The BFR will be used to explore Mars — a goal that Musk hopes to accomplish by 2022.

Moon, spaceX
A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket (VOA)

“SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for 300 missions over five years. Then the BFR takes over and Falcon retires. Goal of BFR is to enable anyone to move to Moon, Mars and eventually outer planets,” Musk had said in May.

Only 24 humans have been to the Moon so far, and no one has visited since the 1972 Apollo mission.

However, it was not clear whether the BFR tourism mission has any link to an announcement SpaceX made in February 2017, the CNN reported.

At that time, SpaceX said two people signed a deal with SpaceX to make a trip around the moon aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. SpaceX was tight-lipped about the financial terms of the deal and the identity of the individuals.

Moon
The Moon. Pixabay

In February, SpaceX debuted the long-awaited Falcon Heavy, which became the world’s most powerful operational launch vehicle, the report said.

But during a Falcon Heavy press conference earlier this year, Musk told reporters that, for the time being, SpaceX had no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.

Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.

Also Read: SpaceX Launches Communications Satellite

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump also issued a directive to “lead an innovative space exploration programme to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars”.

The new heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing for deep-space missions — known as the Space Launch System — could serve as a core component of a moon trip. (IANS)

Next Story

China Exchanged Data With NASA On Its Recent Mission To Moon

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022.

0
China
Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the national space agency, speaks during a press conference held in Beijing, China, Jan. 14, 2019. VOA

China exchanged data with NASA on its recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

The space agency’s deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. He added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.

Moon, China
The far side of the moon, photographed by the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, is seen in this image provided by China National Space Administration, Jan. 3, 2019. VOA

NASA has not published any statements on the collaboration and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lunar mission by Chang’e 4 and its rover, Jade Rabbit 2, was a triumph for China’s growing space program, which has been rapidly catching up with those of Russia and the U.S. President Xi Jinping has placed space exploration among the country’s national development priorities and the far side mission offered a chance for China to do something not done before by any other country.

The far side of the moon – the side which faces away from Earth – posed a challenge for scientists because it is beyond radio signals’ reach. China set up a relay satellite in May to receive communication from Chang’e 4.

“In the past, we were always rushing to catch up to the advanced global standards” in space, said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar exploration project.

“There were many things to catch up on, and fewer things in which we could surpass others,” he said. “With the probe of the far side of the moon this time, Chinese people have done very well.”

China, Moon
This picture taken Jan. 3, 2019, and received, Jan. 4, from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows a robotic lunar rover on the far side of the moon. VOA

Officials at the briefing declined to give specific figures on the costs of the space program.

Wu Yanhua said the Chang’e 4 was originally built as a “backup product” for Chang’e 3. He said the spending needed to refit it for its new objective was akin to repairing a short section of subway line.

Also Read: NASA Telescopes Capture Birth of Black Hole or Neutron Star

Around the end of this year, China plans to launch Chang’e 5, which is to collect and bring back samples from the near side of the moon, the first time that has been done since 1976. Scientists are still researching whether to send Chinese astronauts, Wu said.

The country has also said that it will welcome scientists and astronauts from around the world to make use of its space station, which is slated for completion by 2022. (VOA)