Private spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have made some huge promises when it arrives to tourism in space. Eager (and very wealthy) astronaut wannabes are waiting anxiously for their chance to soar into the heavens, but now SpaceX customers who have already put their down payment on a trip around the moon are being told they need to cool their jets, so to speak.
Originally announced in February of 2017, the plan was to have SpaceX take a pair of private citizens on a lunar loop that would take them around Earth’s natural satellite and fling them back to solid ground. At the time, the company trusted that manned flights of its Dragon 2 spacecraft would be underway by Q2 of 2018, following an unmanned flight which was slated for the end of 2017. Yeah, none of that has happened yet.
The delay to the paid leisure launch aren’t a shock in light of the company’s entire schedule being pushed back significantly. The unmanned launch of Dragon 2 is now expected to take place in August 2018, with a manned flight happening no sooner than December 2018.
Additionally, the initial announcement of the tourism flight noted that SpaceX would use its Falcon Heavy for the job, but the company has since changed its mind and will use the still in-development BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) instead. All of this points to the sightseeing trip taking place no earlier than mid-2019 and probably much later depending on how well things go with Dragon 2 and the BFR.
The travelers who will be participating in the paid flight have not been identified in any way, with SpaceX simply noting that it is two private citizens who have “already paid a significant deposit” for the privilege of being SpaceX’s first space tourism clients. Let’s hope they still have enough money left over to keep themselves occupied until 2019.