The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk said that the company will send two passengers on a trip around the Moon in 2018.
Private space flight will be performed on a rocket Falcon Heavy, which will orbit the company’s spacecraft Dragon with passengers on board.
The names of the travelers have not been disclosed, but the company says that they have already made a significant advance payment. The names of the space tourists will be announced later, after the results of the first medical checks confirm their suitability for such a journey.
Dragon 2 is a manned spacecraft designed to fly seven astronauts in low Earth orbit.
“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,” said in the statement of SpaceX.
The tourists will be the only people on board the Dragon during their almost a week-long flight around the moon, said Elon Musk. According to him, tourists will fly around the Earth’s satellite, but will not land on it.
Currently the company plans to send Dragon for its first unmanned flight to the ISS, so in the middle of the next year if will take a crew, said Musk. This means that Falcon 9 and Dragon need to be recognized by NASA as suitable for flights with people onboard before the Moon mission takes place.
According Musk, NASA “always has priority” if it wishes to send its astronauts first at “this kind of mission.”
Dragon spacecraft will mostly operate autonomously, so passengers should be able to act in emergency situations, but they will not pilot the ship.