Watch SpaceX Announce Its First Passenger To The Moon
Tonight will be a big night for space tourism.
SpaceX, the private spaceflight company spearheaded by Elon Musk, will reveal the identity of the mystery passenger who booked a trip around the moon on the company’s massive BFR rocket.
The announcement is being broadcast from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, but you can watch the highly anticipated event live, courtesy of SpaceX.
The event—which kicks off at 9 pm EDT and is expected to last an hour—will feature Musk unveiling not only the name of the first BFR (aka the Big Falcon Rocket) passenger, but the person’s reasons for going.
The big reveal comes a few days after SpaceX’s initial surprise tweet announcement last Thursday that it signed its first passenger to fly around the moon on the company’s next-generation rocket, the BFR.
Leading up to today, Musk has stoked speculation by dropped tantalizing previews of the BFR’s new rocket design as well as subtle clues to the mystery passenger’s identity on Twitter.
Shortly after the announcement, Musk tweeted a Japanese flag emoji, which could be a hint as to the nationality of the BFR passenger.
It’s probably safe to assume that the mystery person is extremely wealthy.
With Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic preparing to take tourists to suborbital space for a couple hundred thousand dollars a ticket, and trips to the International Space Station carrying a hefty price tag of $35 million (or more) for space tourists, SpaceX’s moon shot will likely be significantly higher.
This customer will be the first private astronaut to go to the moon, assuming no one beats SpaceX to it in the meantime.
“Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history. No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972,” SpaceX tweeted following its initial announcement.
The company has dubbed this flight the “BFR Lunar Mission.” But it’s not the first time that SpaceX has announced it would be ferrying tourists to lunar space.
In 2017, Musk said that the company would take not one, but two astronauts on a trip around the moon. Those two people, however, would be riding on the Falcon Heavy, not the BFR.
Scant details emerged about those individuals or their proposed flight. Musk revealed only that they had both put down a “significant deposit” for the trip.
But during the Falcon Heavy’s inaugural flight last February, Musk admitted that the Falcon Heavy moon trip was not going to happen; instead the company would focus on putting people on the BFR.
Musk did confirm that the design of the BFR has changed slightly since it was first announced in 2016.
Last night, he tweeted new images showing a few changes to the vehicle’s design, which included three huge fins, seven engines, and a black heat shield, mounted on the underside of the spacecraft.
Musk also indicated that there will be a deployable “forward moving wing” near its nose.
It’s unclear whether this new customer is one of the two passengers who planned to fly on the Falcon Heavy. We also don’t know any specific details about the mission other than the destination.
Will this person be alone, or will they be accompanied by official astronauts? If this person is one of the passengers who signed up to fly on the Falcon Heavy, what happened to the other one?
If this person is a third individual entirely, does that make two purported customers who are now unaccounted for? And the money question that we’re all asking: how much is this ride going to cost?
One thing, at least, is clear: The BFR is far from ready to send a passenger around the moon. SpaceX recently leased property near the Port of Los Angeles to build the massive new rocket. Exactly when that will happen remains to be seen.
We’ll be looking for answers to these questions and more during tonight’s event. Check back in at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to watch the livestream with us.
Please like, share and tweet this article.
Pass it on: Popular Science