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How SpaceX's 1st Passenger Flight Around the Moon with Yusaku Maezawa Will Work

Earthrise

NASA

Two days and 21 hours into the Lunar BFR Mission, Maezawa and his fellow passengers will see Earthrise - the dazzling sight of the Earth rising above the moon that was first witnessed by NASA's Apollo 8 astronauts in December 1968.

It's sure to be a highlight of the trip. And on a spaceship full of artists, the view may inspire some truly otherworldly artwork.
 

The trip home begins

SpaceX

About three days and 12 hours into the Lunar BFR Mission, it will be time to leave the moon.

Maezawa's spacecraft will swing around the far side of the moon and fire some or all of its seven Raptor engines to make any course corrections that may be required for the cruise back to Earth.
 

Entry interface

SpaceX

At the five-day, 22-hour mark (according to SpaceX's flight profile), the BFS will begin descending through Earth's atmosphere, using its forward and aft wings to steer.

Artistic renderings of the huge spacecraft show the re-entry-facing surface to have a different, darker coating than the rest of the ship's gleaming white hull. This may be some added thermal protection against the fiery heat of re-entry.
 

Landing a giant spaceship

SpaceX

According to Musk, the BFS will fly "more like a skydiver than an aircraft" when it makes its landing approach.

The moving rear and forward wings (they look more like fins) will keep the spacecraft oriented properly during re-entry until it is time for a landing burn using the spacecraft's engines.

"This will look very epic in person," Musk said Sept. 17. "Guaranteed to be exciting."
 

The moon awaits

SpaceX

Before SpaceX can launch Maezawa to the moon, the company has to build the BFR.

In 2018, SpaceX announced that it had signed a deal with the Port of Los Angeles to build a new rocket factory in the port. The company is building the cylindrical sections needed for the BFR rocket and aims to start testing the spaceship component of the launch system as early as 2019 at its southern Texas site.

Shown in this image was the first cylindrical section of the BFR, with a SpaceX engineer for scale.

Once SpaceX completes its BFR launch system, the company won't just put Maezawa aboard and loft them into space; the company plans a series of test flights in space to verify the system will be safe for passengers.

Musk said an uncrewed trip around the moon might even fly before Maezawa's trip, though it remained to be determined.

So, there you have it: SpaceX's plan to launch the first private passenger, a space tourist with artful ambitious, on a trek around the moon!

What do you think? Is this the next giant leap for humanity, or another case of moon madness? We'll have to wait and see how the mission evolves over time.

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