SpaceX is shooting to send two private citizens out of this world, the company’s founder Elon Musk announced Monday.
The two unidentified tourists put down a “significant deposit” with SpaceX to take an adventure to the moon, Musk said in a statement.
Their identities remain a secret until the results of initial health tests ensure their fitness for the mission, the statement said.
“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 representatives said.
The statement said the company would use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the passengers into space. The Falcon rocket will launch their Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) without people on board this year.
A subsequent mission will fly Nasa astronauts to the ISS as part of the Commercial Crew Program in mid-year 2018.
SpaceX said Nasa had encouraged private crewed missions, saying that through them, “long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions.”
In a statement, Nasa said it “commends its industry partners for reaching higher.”
Only after crewed missions have started for Nasa, SpaceX stated, the company will launch its mission around the moon from the Cape Canaveral launch pad used by the Apollo program.
“This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them,” the company reported.
The launch will take off from the historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center late next year on SpaceX’s Dragon 2 on a Falcon Heavy rocket.
Originally published March 1