Promising to take a half-dozen or more artists with him on the journey, Japanese fashion magnate Yusaku Maezawa said Monday he has paid a deposit for a ride around the moon aboard SpaceX’s planned BFR rocket as soon as 2023, a financial infusion that will help bankroll development of the company’s futuristic interplanetary transporter.
A year-and-a-half after announcing plans to launch two private citizens on a flight around the moon using the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon capsule, SpaceX posted a tweet late Thursday announcing apparently revised plans to launch a “private passenger” on a moon flight using SpaceX’s new BFR rocket.
Flight controllers have not heard from NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover since June 10 when an increasingly severe global dust storm blocked out the sun, preventing its solar arrays from recharging the robot’s batteries. But the dust storm is finally abating and engineers are hopeful the long-lived rover will wake up and phone home in the next few weeks.
Space missions dispatched into the solar system often have journeys lasting years before reaching a scientific payoff, but NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched last weekend on a speedy departure from planet Earth is already getting ready to sweep closer to the sun than any spacecraft in history during a flyby later this year.
The Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft dropped within a half-mile of asteroid Ryugu last week, probing its gravity field ahead of key decisions in the coming days to settle on a target site for the robotic mission’s first sample collection attempt, and the best touchdown location for a European lander stowed on the mothership.