It has been nearly half a century since humankind set foot on the moon but as of Monday, February 27, 2017, that wait will soon come to an end. Space tech superhero Elon Musk teased the world in a tweet that read: "Fly me to the moon... OK." This came immediately following a news conference where he released information about two as yet unnamed people who approached him with a considerable sum of money to send them on a one-week journey to the moon (or rather just a loop around it) and back.
Musk will not, for privacy reasons, divulge the identity of the pair or any financial specifics on the cost of the trip but did state they [the clients and SpaceX] are "very serious" about making this happen. Based on the timing of the planned moon shot, the pair of adventurers (whom Musk insists is no one we know) will most likely be taking their flight on or near the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission at the end of 2018. The flight would use a Dragon crew capsule and be launched with a Falcon heavy rocket from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Space flight is not yet for everyone however. Musk advised Reuters that the traveling pair of people were made aware of all the risks involved and that they are entering into this mission with open eyes and open minds. Although the risk is small, they know there is a chance they may not return to earth or that something else will go catastrophically wrong with any part of the flight. Musk is deeply serious about their safety and promises they have had long discussions and will receive extensive training prior to the flight.
This is a massive step toward the future of commercial travel and, though it is not without risks, companies like SpaceX consistently gain experience in minimizing those risks with each successful launch and landing. Musk's ultimate goal: To fly a yet-in-progress Red Dragon ship to Mars by the year 2020 and eventually establish a thriving human colony on the revered red planet.
File photo of SpaceX Dragon capsule (c) 2015 SpaceX.