This just in from space.com: As SpaceX Unveils Space Tourist Moon Flight, NASA Reacts. According to the account:
“Under the SpaceX plan, passengers would take a trip on Dragon and loop around the moon, ‘skimming’ above the lunar surface at the closest point and flying out up to 400,000 miles (650,000 kilometers) from Earth at the farthest point. The entire trip should last five days, [Elon] Musk said. The flight could launch near the end of 2018, and potentially coincide with the 50th anniversary of NASA’s historic flight of Apollo 8, which launched the first Apollo astronauts around the moon in December 1968.”
Minor problems intervene however, like Elon Musk’s “dubious” reputation for meeting announced deadlines. Then we have truly major problems, especially overcoming the deadly radiation of deep space. I doubt that Musk has found a way to compress and lighten water or lead to surround his capsule with a meter of same to protect his high net-worth passengers from all that radiation and yet lift such a heavy load into low earth orbit, much less beyond the far side of the moon. A moon flight of 400,000 miles and back encounters the radiation of the Van Allen belts out to approximately 50,000 miles, plus deadly cosmic rays throughout deep space plus frequent and unpredictable solar flares (aka: solar particle events). Five days of intense radiation imply two dead passengers and intensely unhappy families.
Radiation is a deal breaker for Musk’s moon reverie for openers. And the technical challenges yet to be overcome for manned flight into deep space remain legion. But didn’t we already do a fly-by as well as land on the surface of the moon to play golf nearly a half century ago in the Apollo program? The government and major media would not lie about such serious matters, now would they? Surely I jest. Too bad Vegas is not taking wagers on the odds of successful manned flights beyond the moon within the next two years. As I wrote earlier on this blog, a “return” to the moon is so much moonshine.