SpaceX's CEO and founder, Elon Musk, on February 27 announced that two private citizens contracted to fly on its Dragon 2 spacecraft in a circumnavigation mission around the moon in 2018. Musk added that NASA could provide astronauts to make this trip as a matter of priority, but then two private individuals had deposited significant amounts to embark on the moon mission. This announcement has set off a wild speculation as to who the two rich and bold explorers could be.
Two potential candidates that have the clouts to go on a moon mission
British billionaire Richard Branson is one space enthusiast that is speculated to make the moon trip with SpaceX next year. It is true that Branson owns Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit with a commercial spaceflight program of his own, but Mashable reports touring the moon is not on his companies' agendas for now. Flying with SpaceX to circumnavigate the moon does not clash with his companies' interests at the moment, and Branson has the money and the boldness to want to make the moon trip.
It is also being speculated that Titanic director James Cameron might be one of the unnamed persons to want to tour around the moon. Cameron reportedly paid out over $100 million to Space Adventures in 2011 to fly around the moon, but this journey has not been made yet. He also paid a hefty sum in 2012 to become to deepest solo diver into the Mariana Trench - the deepest part of the ocean in the world.
One additional candidate that may likely make the moon mission
Sergey Brin, president and co-founder of Google, is another likely candidate for the SpaceX moon trip in 2018. He had also paid money to Space Adventures to visit the International Space Station (ISS) but this trip has not been made yet. His company also offered the prize of $20 million to a privately-owned company that would put a spacecraft on the surface of the moon via the Google Lunar X Prize competition.
It is not known yet whether NASA will impose its will and send its own astronauts or the two unnamed private individuals will make the journey. Musk had earlier said the two persons are already undergoing health and fitness tests to prepare them for the moon mission. One thing however is clear, the two persons contracted to fly around the moon in 2018 might be rich and famous people; and they might also be relatively unknown people who will win international recognition for the mission trip.