The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced this Monday that they are planning to send at least two tourists to the moon in the last trimester of the next year. It seems like the aerospace company could be beating NASA in one of their greatest goals: returning to the Moon.

The federal agency has not attempted the effort since over half a century, the Apollo 11 returned to Earth more than 47 years ago. SpaceX launched its first rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida only a week ago, as their executives did not wait to announce the next big goal of sending tourists to the Moon.

SpaceX Dragon
The Dragon capsule is expected to arrive at the ISS on Tuesday. Image credit: NASA

According to Musk, two persons that knew each other approached SpaceX regarding the possibilities for traveling on a week-long flight to the Moon. He said that these persons “paid a significant deposit and are very serious about it.” Musk even tweeted after the announcement, “Fly me to the moon . . . OK.”

When talking about the risks these two passengers will face, Musk admitted that even after minimizing it, they must be aware of it. However, he said that “they’re certainly not naive,” and that “they’re coming into this with their eyes open.”

SpaceX is moving fast as NASA can feel frustrated about it

Musk also announced this Monday that his company is getting ready to launch a mission that will carry two astronauts to the International Space Station in mid-2018. NASA has helped SpaceX financially speaking, as it has signed $3 billion contracts oriented to the company being able to carry astronauts to the ISS.

The funding received by Musk’s company has allowed the developing of essential machinery necessary to satisfy SpaceX’s visionary goals. However, NASA is not so happy regarding the company next objectives as they could be moving away from the track that the agency designed when contracting SpaceX.

Colonizing Mars in 2020 and traveling to the moon in 2018 are not the objectives NASA is expecting from SpaceX, as their contract seems to be not so important to the company. SpaceX has helped NASA in providing cargo transportation, but major setbacks like the 2015 rocket explosion might be causing distrust from NASA toward SpaceX.

When reading the official statement, it is implicit how NASA hopes that the company focus on what is really important for the space agency which is delivering supplies (and even astronauts) to the ISS, and not other visionary goals.

“We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to US soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station,” the official statement reads.

Source: The Washington Post