SpaceX Delays Their Plans to Send Tourists to The Moon This Year

Monday, 04 June 2018 - 6:28PM
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SpaceX
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Monday, 04 June 2018 - 6:28PM
SpaceX Delays Their Plans to Send Tourists to The Moon This Year
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Flickr/SpaceX
Early last year, SpaceX made headlines when they announced they were sending two private citizens to the Moon in 2018. Now they're making headlines again, for saying they'll actually do in 2019 instead.

Elon Musk's spaceflight company made the announcement today that the launch of two tourists to the Moon has been postponed to the middle of next year. They don't entirely specify why it won't be happening this year, but the implication seems to be that their technology just isn't up to snuff yet.

Or more likely, it is potentially up to snuff, but the risk of something going wrong is still far too high to safely send up any astronauts just yet. According to the Wall Street Journal, SpaceX claimed that "technical and production challenges" are disrupting their plans for human exploration of space, with a spokesperson saying the following:

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"A new timetable for the flight-now postponed until at least mid-2019 and likely longer-hasn't been released."
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These two tourists that SpaceX wants to land on the Moon have never been publicly named, but Musk has said that they've already put down deposits, so they're expecting to make the trip eventually. There's no schedule for the new launch, and SpaceX might not be entirely sure themselves when they want to pull off such an ambitious stunt.

It's very possible that their concerns mirror NASA's concerns in the past: SpaceX is eventually supposed to start sending astronauts to the International Space Station in Falcon 9 rockets, but NASA has been hesitant about safety risks in SpaceX launches.

The company uses a method of fueling their rocket called "load and go", which involves freezing the fuel so more can be stuffed inside the rocket, but because it's frozen, it needs to be loaded immediately before launch. Which means that any cargo (and potentially crew) is already onboard when the fuel is loaded on, and if a spark during loading causes an explosion, it'll take down anything in the rocket.



This has already happened once before, but there were thankfully no people onboard the Falcon 9 rocket when it blew up. Even though they've launched all sorts of satellites and even Musk's Tesla into space, they've never done a manned rocket launch yet. Having the first people to fly in a SpaceX rocket be two rich tourists could be risky for a whole bunch of reasons. 

They've otherwise had a lot of luck in their recent launches, so it's very possible that the private company will eventually land humans on the Moon. But unsurprisingly, that won't be happening in 2018.
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