SpaceX to shoot two tourists around the moon

The private space company will fly two private citizens along the same path as Apollo 8 from the same launch pad -- almost 50 years later.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read
Watch this: SpaceX plans to shoot tourists around the moon

SpaceX is set to launch what's probably the longest charter flight in history as soon as late 2018. CEO Elon Musk said Monday that his private rocket company will send two paying customers on a flight around the moon.

"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," the company said in a statement. "We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year."


SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon V2 capsule in May 2014.

Tim Stevens/CNET

No personal information about the private citizens paying for the trip was disclosed. The company did say they have already put down a "significant deposit" and other flight teams have expressed interest in booking a similar trip. The tourists will fly aboard a Dragon Crew spacecraft launched from Earth by a Falcon Heavy rocket.

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic also plan to offer space tourism flights, mostly at the suborbital level. SpaceX is the only commercial space company promising a trip this out of this world.

In a conference call with reporters, Musk implied that NASA could jump to the front of the line if it wanted to fly a similar mission with SpaceX.

Musk also said the cost would be similar to flying a private citizen to the International Space Station. A decade ago, a similar trip cost about $25 million. It's tough to say how much inflation has affected the cost of space tourism since then, or what kind of a premium one might expect to pay to fly in a new Dragon capsule from Florida rather than a Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan.

The private mission around the moon sounds as though it will essentially retrace the path of Apollo 8, which famously spent Christmas Eve orbiting the moon in 1968. The company says the spacecraft will lift off from Kennedy Space Center's historic Pad 39A, where the Apollo missions were also launched. SpaceX recently conducted its first mission since taking over the launch pad earlier this month.

A 23rd-century tourist guide to the galaxy

See all photos

CNET Magazine: Check out a sampling of the stories you'll find in CNET's newsstand edition.

Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about what VR is and how it'll affect your life.