Elon Musk’s space exploration company SpaceX annnounced on Thursday that it had signed up the world’s first private passenger for a trip around the moon.
It offered few further details other than to say the customer will fly on its giant Big Falcon Rocket (or Big F***ing Rocket) launch system.
“Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17,” the company said in a tweet. It also set up a livestream ready for the event.
Mr Musk offered a hint to the identity of the customer, displaying a Japanese flag in a tweet sent in response to speculation that the company founder would be the first passenger.
The announcement is reminiscent of plans announced last year to send two passengers around the Moon using the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket to blast them into space. They would have ridden in a Dragon crew vehicle that SpaceX routinely sends loaded with supplies to the International Space Station.
SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle—an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space. Find out who’s flying and why on Monday, September 17. pic.twitter.com/64z4rygYhk
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 14, 2018
However, the project was apparently shelved after Mr Musk admitted that the company was still working out whether it would be better achieved with the BFR.
The names of those two tourists – and how much they intended to pay – were never revealed.
Mr Musk’s hopes of one day flying to Mars rest with the BFR, which he hopes will be ready to blast off for the red planet in 2022, and its associated BFS space craft.
The reusable rocket will have 31 main Raptor engines and the thrust to launch 150 tons of cargo to Mars.
The tech entrepreneur says the BFR will eventually replace SpaceX’s existing lineup of rockets, which are currently used for missions such as delivering supplies to the International Space Station.
However, Mr Musk has also proposed using the vehicle for point-to-point journeys around the Earth, travelling from New York to London in 29 minutes, for example.