Elon Musk Announces Daring SpaceX Dragon Flight Beyond Moon with 2 Private Astronauts in 2018

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced plans on Feb. 27, 2017 to launch a commercial crew SpaceX Dragon to beyond the Moon and back with two private astronauts in 2018 using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launching from the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: SpaceX

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Breaking News – Elon Musk, billionaire founder and CEO of SpaceX, announced today (27 Feb) a daring plan to launch a commercial manned journey to beyond the Moon and back in 2018 flying aboard an advanced crewed Dragon spacecraft paid for by two private astronauts – at a media telecon.

Note: Check back again for updated details in this breaking news story.

“This is an exciting thing! We have been approached to do a crewed mission to beyond the Moon by some private individuals,” Musk announced at the hastily arranged media telecon just concluded this afternoon which Universe Today was invited to participate in.

The private two person crew would fly aboard a human rated Dragon on a long looping trajectory around the moon and far beyond on an ambitious mission lasting roughly eight days and that could blastoff by late 2018 – if all goes well with rocket and spacecraft currently under development, but not yet flown.

No human has traveled beyond low Earth orbit in more than four decades since Apollo 17 – NASA’s final lunar landing mission in December 1972, and commanded by recently deceased astronaut Gene Cernan.

“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,” says SpaceX.

Musk said the private crew of two would launch on a Dragon 2 crew spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – the same pad that just reopened for business last week with the successful launch of a cargo Dragon to the International Space Station for NASA

“They are two paying customers.”

“They will fly using a Dragon 2 and Falcon Heavy next year in 2018.”

The Falcon Heavy, once operational, will be the most powerful rocket in the world. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is currently developing the commercial crew Dragon spacecraft for missions to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station (ISS) under a NASA funded public/private contract.

The company is developing the triple barreled Falcon Heavy with its own funds – which is derived from the single barreled Falcon 9 rocket funded by NASA.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

An artist's illustration of the Falcon Heavy rocket. Image: SpaceX

An artist’s illustration of the Falcon Heavy rocket. Image: SpaceX

Historic maiden blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center) at 9:38 a.m. EDT on Feb 19, 2017, on Dragon CRS-10 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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