Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Delaying Its Space Tourism Until At Least Mid-2019

Your rendezvous on Mars will have to wait a little bit longer. 

by Josie Rhodes Cook

So much for your space vacation. SpaceX is delaying its space tourism until at least mid-2019, and chances are it will be even longer before the company can send a pair of space tourists on a trip around the moon, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

A new timetable for the flight has not yet been released by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., but the feat of science and space exploration will not be happening this year, as previously announced. That’s definitely a bummer for anyone looking to go on a space vacation in the near future. But space tourism does still appear to be on the agenda for Elon Musk’s company as well as for other parties as well.

A hover test for the Dragon 2 spacecraft.

SpaceX / YouTube

So What Happened?

SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that the planned, private moon launch has been postponed, but he didn’t confirm when it actually will happen. Gleeson said there is “growing interest from many customers” for trips around the moon, which is kind of a no-brainer. Who doesn’t want to take a tour in space?

The delay is not a huge surprise to industry experts. Fortune reported that initially, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was supposed to power the mission, but Musk reportedly said a few months back that the company would likely use its “Big F—ing Rocket” (BFR) instead. The BFR is still under development, meaning it’s probably not ready to take a few lucky people around the moon in just a handful of months. Fortune also reported that Musk said in March the BFR may debut in March 2019, which would bring us closer to the mid-2019 timeframe.

SpaceX is also dealing with uncertainty about demand for the Falcon Heavy, and projecting a drop of nearly 40 percent in launches next year, thanks to things like fewer launch contracts for large commercial satellites, The Wall Street Journal reported.

 Falcon Heavy

Flickr / Official SpaceX Photos

Space Tourism Is Definitely on the Way

But never fear, space fans. There is still a definite interest in space tourism — even though regular old space tourists will likely have to go through physical training, just like astronauts, in order to handle the journey. No pain, no gain if you want to touch the stars.

Digital Trends reported in May that Virgin Galactic is “neck and neck” with Blue Origin when it comes to the space tourism race, with SpaceX easily in the mix as well. Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson reportedly believes that Blue Origin is his company’s immediate competitor, and his company is actually looking to start its space tourism service in the next year or so.

It sounds like 2019 is shaping up to be an interesting year for space tourism, but who will be the first to send tourists into space? SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, or another company entirely?

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