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SpaceX announces plan to launch tourists around the Moon

The space transport company has said two private citizens have approached them about a weeklong trip around the moon. The mission is set for the end of 2018.

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SpaceX plans to send paying tourists around moon

Private aerospace firm SpaceX said on Monday that it plans to fly two tourists to the moon in late 2018. This is the first time such a venture has been attempted since the US Apollo program last sent astronauts on lunar missions in 1972.

"We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year," said CEO Elon Musk. The tech billionaire added that the two passengers knew each other, but disclosed few details about them or how much the trip would cost them. Musk said that the two have already paid a significant deposit toward the trip.

"It's nobody from Hollywood," he noted.

Musk admitted that there was always danger to space travel, but that the tourists were "entering this with their eyes open…they're certainly not naïve, and we'll do everything we can to minimize the risk, but it's not zero."

The Tesla entrepreneur made it clear that they would receive "extensive training" before they would be allowed in the air. The trip would consist of a week-long loop around the moon, but not a lunar landing.

Picking up NASA's slack

This isn't the first time SpaceX would slip into NASA's shoes. The company is already on track to send astronauts to the International Space Station on behalf of the US agency sometime in mid-2018. The mission will use SpaceX's own Dragon crew capsule and Falcon rocket.

Musk said he hoped the mission would make the world "really excited about sending people into deep space again." His company's upcoming big projects include the so-called Red Dragon mission, an unmanned trip to Mars to conduct experiments sometime around the year 2020.

es/gsw (AP, AFP)

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