On February 15, acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot announced that a feasibility study is underway regarding the use of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion to perform a human flight around the moon by the end of 2019. Less than two weeks later, on February 27, SpaceX announced plans to send two tourists on flight around the moon by the end of 2018 using the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and the Dragon 2 capsule. It appears that human missions beyond Earth orbit will finally be resuming soon after a hiatus of more than 45 years.
One cannot help but notice the remarkable similarity between NASA’s proposed mission and that of SpaceX. Both missions would conduct a trans-lunar free return trajectory burn that would loop around the Moon and return to Earth. Some details are different, such as the specific of the trajectories under consideration. Also, though both missions would be flying two people, the NASA mission would be flying two career astronauts, while the SpaceX mission would be flying two tourists. Read full article here
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