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A new tourism destination: the Moon

Ishika Jain, Indepth Editor

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The moon, for all, has been a place for discovery, awe, and wonder. The moon has mainly been a destination for astronauts and space companies to learn more about the moon and space. However, two mystery tourists approached SpaceX, a private American aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, and made a large deposit in hope for visiting the moon.

SpaceX hopes to carry out the project in  late 2018 in which the two anonymous citizens will be take a round around the moon on an automated ship without an astronaut. The tourists will be launched around the moon using SpaceX’s Dragon Crew capsule and Falcon Heavy rocket. These two vehicles are also scheduled for unpiloted tests this year to ensure that they will perform as expected. The trip is predicted to only take five days and the tourists will fly as far as 400,000 miles from Earth, but will not land on the surface.

It will be 45 years since humans have traveled to space if this project is carried out. Unfortunately, this trip will not allow for much discovery, as the moon has already been visited by humans on several occasions. However, if SpaceX is able to carry out this mission successfully, it will largely benefit the company, as it will prove the company’s potential and make it the ideal company for space tourism.

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

Musk has chosen to not only keep the two people a mystery but also the price for the journey. It is difficult to estimate the price of this expenditure, as there are many varying components. Undoubtedly, the two tourists will have to make a payment for the spacecraft, rocket, and fuel but there is also money that will have to go towards equipment that will be used to train the people, more emergency equipment, and development of rescue plans. Although, Musk has chosen to withhold the cost, he did say that the cost was close to the price and possibly,even more, of a crewed trip to the International Space Station, which would cost about $20 to $40 million. This trip also entails a great amount of safety risk, as these tourists are not astronauts and do not have the extent of knowledge that astronauts do. However, Musk guarantees that these tourists will be put through rigorous training as well as learn how to deal with emergency situations. The company has revealed that health tests and the beginning stages of the training are scheduled to begin this year.

NASA and SpaceX are also working together to ensure the success of this mission. NASA has a history of contracting SpaceX for sending cargo flights to the International Space Station and has entrusted this company for various space missions. In an emailed statement to the “Business Insider”, NASA stated that they “commend its industry partners for reaching higher.” Although these two companies work together, NASA is making their own equipment for deep-space missions. “NASA is changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships to help build a strong American space economy and free the agency to focus on developing the next-generation rocket, spacecraft, and systems to go beyond the moon and sustain deep space exploration,” said SpaceX.

If SpaceX is able to execute this project successfully and get the two mystery tourists back to Earth safely, an entirely new market for space tourism will be opened.

 

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The student news site of Oakton High School
A new tourism destination: the Moon