Nick Stockton on Elon Musk's stated goal for SpaceX to fly humans to the moon -- yes, the moon -- by 2018:
Though he was asked repeatedly by reporters, Musk would not reveal the two would-be astronauts, who “have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission,” he says. Musk would only say that the price the pair are paying will be slightly more than sending astronauts to the ISS. Before launching them into space on a highly compressed timeframe, they’ll undergo health and fitness tests, along with training to begin later this year. The mission should last approximately a week. “Skim the surface of the moon, go quite a bit further out into deep space and then loop back to earth,” says Musk. “I’m guessing probably distance-wise probably 300,000 to 400,000 miles.” Which is about 33,500,000 miles less than it takes to get to Mars, if anyone’s counting.
It seems crazy to think about a private company doing this. I mean, beyond the incredible technical hurdles, the risk involved is well, terminal.
Then again, considering that no human has even gone beyond low Earth orbit since 1972 -- yes, 45 years ago -- you have to applaud Musk for pushing the envelope here (even if he doesn't hit the 2018 goal, which seems a stretch, to say the least). At the very least, he should push NASA to move faster (well, assuming they have the budget).Read more...