Wednesday, June 06, 2018

SpaceX Won't Be Going to the Moon This Year After All

Remember back in February of 2017 when SpaceX founder Elon Musk indicated that his company would send space tourists to the moon this year? At the time, the plan was met with much incredulity from those who follow space travel closely and now it seems that skepticism was well founded. The planned flight to the moon has now been postponed, with no hard date yet announced.

Various media outlets are now reporting that SpaceX has pushed the moon-shot into mid-2019 at the very earliest. Work on preparing and testing the company's Dragon manned capsule is not going as quickly as expected, which may be the main cause for delay. Earlier this year, SpaceX did fire its Flacon Heavy rocket however, which is currently the most powerful rocket in operation. That launch system will play a major role in Musk's plans to go to the Moon, Mars, and potentially beyond.

Originally, the plan was to send two passengers on a trip around the moon. These space tourists would launch from Earth, break out of orbit, circle the moon a few times, and then return home. Musk claimed to have had two individuals pay a substantial deposit to take the trip, although the names of those individuals remains a mystery. It appears that now, they'll have to wait a bit longer to take their flight.

I have a lot of respect for Musk and SpaceX for the work they're doing in advancing space travel. The company holds key contracts with NASA and other government agencies – not to mention other companies – to launch satellites into orbit, ferry supplies to the International Space Station, and eventually carry astronauts to the ISS too. But making safe, incremental advances in this complex field isn't easy. A trip to the moon in 2018 always seemed like a long shot and that has proven to be accurate. In fact, I'll be surprised if they can pull it off in 2019 too. That said, we are slowly but surely getting closer to commercial space travel being an actual thing, it has just seemed perpetually out of reach for years now.

So, would you sign up for a trip to the moon? Given the opportunity, I'd go in a heartbeat. Hopefully we'll see this flight take place at some point. I'd sure like to see humans go back to the moon, and on to Mars, in my lifetime.

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