SpaceX: Surprise Announcement on 'Important Step' for Space Travel

Details are scarce, but passenger reportedly booked to fly around moon on Big Falcon Rocket
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2018 6:11 AM CDT
Updated Sep 14, 2018 6:52 AM CDT
In this June 24, 2018, file photo, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at a news conference in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

(Newser) – A big announcement has emerged out of SpaceX, involving what the Verge calls a "truly out-of-this-world vacation." In a tweet late Thursday, the company proclaimed a deal has been struck with a "private passenger" to fly around the moon in its Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR—an "important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space." The company is tight-lipped on the rest, save a second tweet noting "only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history." The reusable BFR—which CBS News calls the "centerpiece" of SpaceX's plans to send manned missions to the moon and Mars—was originally announced as a two-tiered contraption consisting of a 31-engine rocket and the Big Falcon Spaceship, though SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that the rendering seen in the image accompanying Thursday's tweet is a "new version."

As Ars Technica puts it, "we have questions," including whether SpaceX's new plan is even realistic. The site says it comes down to funding, and if the money is there, then yes, this could come to pass. But the Verge notes the announcement follows one that came in February 2017, when SpaceX proclaimed it would send two people around the moon in its Falcon Heavy rocket by the end of 2018—a vow that now doesn't appear to be coming to fruition. Meanwhile, in its original tweet, SpaceX promises more details on Monday, including "who's flying and why." One cryptic clue comes from Musk himself, who responded shortly after the announcement to a tongue-in-cheek Twitter query. "Elon, it's you, isn't it?" asked gamer Taylor Harris, to which Musk replied with an emoji of the Japanese flag. (How's Musk doing lately, anyway?)

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