SpaceX to send citizens beyond moon in 2018

SpaceX plans to send two people around the Moon

SpaceX plans to send two people around the Moon

The rocket used to bring the spacecraft to space will be the Falcon Heavy, a new rocket developed by SpaceX, it will be tested this summer.

Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. During a teleconference with reporters, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the two people would fly an approximately week-long mission in a "long loop" around the Moon, to about 400,000 miles from Earth, before returning home.

In an out-of-the-blue announcement, the Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX revealed their plans to send two private citizens around the moon in 2018. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow.

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The Dragon 2 will be capable of operating autonomously throughout the whole flight, but the passengers will be trained in emergency procedures. The unnamed pair reportedly paid a "significant deposit" for the trip, which will be conducted using SpaceX's existing launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA is now contracting them to deliver astronauts to and from the International Space Station, which should begin in 2018.

"NASA always has first priority, so if NASA decides to have the first mission of this nature be a NASA mission", Musk said.

SpaceX also thanked NASA, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.