This week’s poll: SpaceX and lunar tourism

Will Elon Musk’s tourist flight around the moon advance crewed spaceflight?

The announcement from SpaceX that it plans to take two paying passengers on a return flight around the moon in 2018 raises questions about the relevance of space tourism to technology.

A century ago, the willingness of paying passengers to risk flights in powered aircraft undoubtedly helped to advance the development of the first airliners; but will the same apply this century to the development of crewed spacecraft? Is this even likely to be a fruitful technological goal, or will humans in space always be a matter for scientific exploration, rather than for transportation? And considering the questions of safety and the propensity for the deadlines for missions such as this to slip as technology proves hard to develop than initially thought, will the trip ever actually happen?

To add some context, the first flight of the NASA–ESA crewed module Orion, also on a translunar route, is planned for October 2018, but if a crew is on board it is likely to be delayed by a year; the first definite Orion mission to carry astronauts is not planned until 2021.

Comments are, as usual, welcome, particularly if you choose the “none of the above” option; please be aware they will be moderated to ensure that discussion stays on topic. We will show the results of this poll on this page on 7th March.

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