SpaceX just announced that it would be sending two private individuals on a weeklong cruise around the moon by next year. In a telephone news conference, Elon Musk said that the rocket would be automated rather than manned by a crew. These passengers would be the first people to head that far into space in four decades.
The problem, though, is that nobody knows exactly how much of this to believe. In the past, SpaceX has played fast and loose with dates. Launches often take place behind schedule: In 2016, it only launched 8 of its 18 planed missions, pushing 10 missions into 2017.
And the company has also had its share of failures, such as the Falcon 9 rocket that exploded last September. Experts are asking whether sending passengers who are not trained astronauts this far into space is a risky project. In a January report to Congress, a NASA panel reiterated safety concerns related to SpaceX’s fueling process.
Read more in the New York Times.