Elon Musk Is About to Name The First Private Passenger to Fly Around The Moon

The company announced that it has booked a private passenger on a trip around our lunar neighbor. Here’s what we know so far.

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Elon Musk Is About to Name The First Private Passenger to Fly Around The Moon

SpaceX has announced that it has signed the first space tourist to fly around the Moon. The announcement came as a tweet posted late Thursday.

According to the tweet, the company will announce the identity of the mystery passenger on Monday. Few other details have been provided, but a follow-up tweet by Elon Musk hints that the passenger may be from Japan.

SpaceX will reveal the name of the Earthling who has signed up for the trip at 9 p.m. ET. But wait: What’s the BFR? And why does this plan sound so familiar? We’ve got you covered.

So, yeah. What’s the BFR?

Like so many items in Musk’s inventory, this rocket has earned itself a somewhat loaded name. The company is going with the mundane Big Falcon Rocket, based on the name of the existing Falcon rockets in the SpaceX fleet—but the exact meaning of the “F” has been negotiable for a while.

Whatever you call it, Musk originally envisioned the BFR as the primary transport vehicle for Mars-bound Earthlings. With a first-stage booster that’s roughly 200 feet tall, 30 feet across, and with dozens of Raptor engines beneath it, the BFR would be legitimately quite large.

It could send 150 tons into Earth’s orbit and thrust its partner spaceships (capable of carrying a hundred people) toward the smaller, redder planet next door.

In other words, it should be more than capable of reaching the moon, or cleaning up space junk, or ferrying people from one side of the planet to the other in about 30 minutes, all of which Musk says he’d like to do.

Cool! Is it happening?

Nope. Musk later announced that the trip has been delayed pending production of the BFR—and said that as of now, there are no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.

Meanwhile, the Dragon crew capsule is still being tested, and NASA is projecting a test flight with the first commercial crew in early 2019.

When might it happen?

It’s a total mystery so far. But given how long it takes SpaceX to design, build, test, and fly its rockets and crew capsules, we wouldn’t put our money on it happening any time soon.

It’s also not clear how much the private moon passenger will be paying for the privilege. For now, the world will have to wait for more details when SpaceX is ready to deliver them.

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