Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced back in February last year that, in late 2018, it would fly two paying space tourists around the Moon and back to Earth. However, those plans have changed.
As reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, the flight is now postponed until at least mid-2019—SpaceX won’t say yet when it will take place, though it insists it will happen.
This is actually confirmation of something we already more-or-less knew. The original plan was for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket to power the mission, but Musk said a few months ago that the company would probably use its “Big F—ing Rocket” (BFR) instead.
The BFR is still under development, so that would explain the delay. Musk said in March that it may debut in March 2019. The BFR is the rocket that SpaceX wants to use to get to Mars, and to make extremely quick Earth-to-Earth journeys.
However, the WSJ piece also notes that SpaceX is facing uncertain demand for Falcon Heavy, and that the company itself is projecting a significant drop in launches next year due to fewer contracts for large satellite launches—smaller satellites can be happily sent into orbit using SpaceX’s smaller, more proven Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX’s latest satellite launch—its 11th mission this year, again using a Falcon 9—took place at Cape Canaveral early Monday. The client there was the satellite operator SES, with the payload being set to deliver TV and data services to customers in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions.