As the space industry gradually moves from government-run programs to the commercial sector we knew there would come a day when the first paying customer was launched into space simply because they wanted to do it. Yesterday, SpaceX announced that it plans to do just that starting in 2018, with a pair of unnamed by obviously wealthy passengers who want to see what it’s like to slingshot themselves around the Moon in a space capsule. Now, the organization that first sent a man to the surface of Earth’s celestial satellite is weighing in on the bold endeavor, and its response is pretty much what you’d expect.
NASA, which, by the way, pays SpaceX large sums of money to launch supplies to the International Space Station, is totally cool with sending random folks out of Earth’s atmosphere — or at least that’s how they’re playing it off. “NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher,” the organization said in a statement. “We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station.”
So, in short, NASA is fine with SpaceX making heaps of cash by flying rich people around the Moon, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the agency’s own agreements with the company to send materials and conduct actual science. That’s a pretty fair and even line to take, and SpaceX’s continued success is obviously also in the best interest of NASA as well, as the two have shown that their partnership is extremely beneficial for both sides.