SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced today thatit has booked two private passengers for a trip around the moon in 2018.
The company is contracted with NASAto deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) using its Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules. Next year, SpaceX will send astronauts to the ISS using itsCrew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft as part of NASAs Commercial Crew Program. Following what will presumably be a successful manned mission, SpaceX will alsolaunch a "private mission" with paying passengers on a journey around the moon.
The spacecraft will launch from the Kennedy Space Center and return to Earth after orbiting the moona journey that should take approximately a week.
"This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years, and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them," the company said in a news statement.
SpaceX declined to share the passengers identities or experience with space travel, but noted that they paid a "significant deposit" on the upcoming moon mission.
NASA is also developing a program to launch crewed missions that will orbit the moon using its jumbo Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion capsule. Although the spacecraft is still being developed, President Trump asked the space agency to consider using astronauts rather than mannequins on its maiden voyage in late 2018.