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Elon Musk announced yesterday that SpaceX will be flying two unnamed private citizens on a trip around the moon next year.
The citizens have already made a “significant deposit to do a moon mission”, but will remain unnamed until they have passed health and fitness tests and consented to going public.
Dragon 2, SpaceX’s human-carrying space capsule, will be used to send the private tourists to the moon. The Dragon 2 has been designed for human beings from the outset, and “has a long flight heritage” according to Musk.
The craft will be sent without humans on board to the International Space Station later this year. SpaceX then intends to launch a crew in Q2 2018, supposedly the last test before the private crew is launched.
NASA, who funded much of Dragon 2’s development, has encouraged SpaceX’s plans for private trips to space.
SpaceX has announced plans to send two private space tourists around the moon
“Long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions,” Musk claims.
Lift-off for SpaceX’s first private space trip will be from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral — the very same pad the Apollo missions used.
This trip also places Musk one step closer in his quest to send people to Mars.
In 2011, Musk asserted his goal of creating a sustainable, permanent base for humans on the Red Planet.
“These missions will build upon that heritage [of the Dragon spacecraft], extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars,” he states.
Feature image: SpaceX via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)