Experts say fortune will have to smile on SpaceX in order for the private, commercial space corporation to meet its ambitious goals of tourist-laden moon missions in the near future.
Elon Musk, CEO and founder of SpaceX, announced plans for the company to launch two paying customers around the moon on a weeklong roundtrip by the end of 2018.
Man first landed on the moon in 1968, and it was then NASA's greatest achievement.Wayne Hale, former director of NASA's space shuttle program, said the years between that feat and the present shouldn't deceive anyone into believing that SpaceX's plans can be simply carried out.
"Even with today's technology, it's still an extraordinarily difficult, extraordinarily dangerous task to undertake, period—I don't care who you are," Hale says.
Hale retired from NASA in 2010, and is now the director of human spaceflight at Special Aerospace Services, a private engineering company in Colorado.
"I think their schedule is so aggressive as to not be believable," Hale says. "I wish them the best of luck, and I certainly hope they succeed. But as a taxpayer, I'm glad there's no tax money involved in this."
Hale said that if NASA - a tax-funded public agency - were in charge of the SpaceX program, it would not be pushing this agenda quite so aggressively and so quickly.