Musk: SpaceX has its first passenger for the lunar trip
On Thursday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced via a tweet that the company has signed the world's first private passenger for a trip around the moon. However, he didn't reveal the identity of the mystery passenger but has promised to provide details via a press conference scheduled for Monday, September 17, at the company's Hawthorne headquarters. Here's what we know about it so far.
Musk makes the announcement on Twitter
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
Is the passenger from Japan? We'll find out on Monday
Right now the information is scant, but we can deduce two things. First, Musk has confirmed that its giant BFR rocket (informally, the Big F**king Rocket) is getting a redesign and will look akin to the rendered image in Musk's tweet. Second, the passenger might be from Japan - when asked whether he was the passenger, Musk replied with a Japanese flag emoji.
No timeline, no funding plans: What is Musk thinking?
Apart from these two guesses, we're completely in the dark. Musk hasn't announced a timeline for its space tourism flight. Neither is it clear how he plans to fund the BFR and its second stage spacecraft, the BFS. Ars Technica notes that the development of the BFR would cost at least $5bn, if not more, and SpaceX simply doesn't have that much cash yet.
Everything's conjecture, let's wait for Monday
Given these questions, particularly issues related to funding, it's highly likely that Musk's planned space tourism trip around the moon won't be happening any time before 2022. A potential target date might be December 2022, as it would mark the 50th anniversary of humanity's last mission to the moon, Apollo 17. But, everything is conjecture for now, and we won't have concrete answers till Monday.