SpaceX prepares to launch “a trip around the moon” in 2018

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Health tests and training could start as soon as this year. 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. In 2018, SpaceX also has a contract with NASA to lift astronauts to the space station. Nobody was close to the moon since 1972 and the Apollo 17 mission.

A huge rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, will be used to blast the two people towards the moon. The Falcon Heavy hasn’t yet flown, but SpaceX says that when it does, it will pack two-thirds the thrust of a Saturn V moon rocket and offers more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying. It will be tested this summer. Soon after the announcement, NASA reminded that the agency expects SpaceX to meet its other obligations while pursuing the moon.

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