SpaceX says it won’t send space tourists around the moon just yet

Two space tourists who were looking forward to being blasted toward the moon by a SpaceX rocket some time this year will now have to wait until at least 2019.

SpaceX spokesperson James Gleeson confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the trip around the moon, first announced last year, has been postponed. He didn’t offer a specific date for when it might take place.

Despite the setback, Gleeson confirmed the company, run by billionaire Elon Musk, “is still planning to fly private individuals around the moon and there is growing interest from many customers.”

SpaceX hasn’t offered any reason for the postponement, but the Journal cites “technical and production challenges” as likely causes.

Such delays are par for the course when it comes to missions of this magnitude, and it certainly isn’t the first time Musk’s space company has had to play around with launch forecasts. SpaceX’s massive Falcon Heavy rocket, for example, only got off the ground in February following a number of delays over several years.

Speaking of the Heavy, that’s the rocket that’s set to take the pair of unnamed tourists into orbit at the start of their one-week journey around the moon, if and when it happens.

The mission, announced to great fanfare by Musk in August 2017, would be the first manned trip to the moon since the last Apollo outing in 1972. Lift-off is set to be from the very same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions: Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The two high-paying astronaut wannabes approached Musk about the possibility of a moon trip prior to the company making any plans for such a trip.

“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” SpaceX said in a message at the time of the announcement.

If the mission gets off the ground, the two space tourists will travel to the moon in SpaceX’s Dragon V2 spacecraft, which is yet to be thoroughly tested. The spacecraft won’t land on the lunar surface, but it will get close as it circles it.

For now, though, they’ll have to sit tight as SpaceX continues with preparations for what could be a 2019 moon mission.

Other private space companies — Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic among them — are also prepping tourism trips toward space as part of a regular commercial service. The suborbital missions would take regular folks — well, regular folks with plenty of money in the bank — on short trips to the edge of space, about 62 miles up, where they’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views and several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth. Both companies are hoping to launch services in the next 12 months, though as SpaceX’s experience shows, the wait could turn out to be longer.

Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.

The end of 'ownership' in the new digital era

Mobile technology is finally advancing out of the standard form we've become used to. The Samsung Galaxy Fold is one example of further innovation and possibly a redesign of how we communicate and interact with our devices. Will 5G…

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.