SpaceX is planning to send two people for a trip around around the moon in late 2018, Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, announced Monday.
Two passengers—private citizens, not astronauts—will launch inside a Dragon capsule atop a Falcon Heavy rocket for a weeklong, 400,000-mile loop around the moon. The space tourists paid SpaceX a “significant amount of money” for the trip and will begin training next year. Musk wouldn’t give their names or genders, nor did he say how much the journey would cost.
For the mystery passengers, the trip is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. For Musk, the mission, if successful, could establish SpaceX as the state of the art in human spaceflight. NASA is still a few years away from testing its Space Launch System, which is supposed to carry astronauts into low-Earth orbit, and even further away from testing the system with humans on board.
If Musk meets his deadline, the moon trip will take place during the 50th anniversary of Americans’ first-ever orbit around the moon. “Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” SpaceX said in a statement Monday.