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SpaceX plans to take 2 tourists on moon-circling trip in 2018

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-01 07:07

LOS ANGELES - US space company SpaceX plans to fly two private space travelers around the moon and back before the end of next year, the company said on Monday.

"Fly me to the moon ... OK," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter.

SpaceX expects to launch the private mission to circumnavigate the moon once it has begun manned missions using its Crew Dragon capsule for the US space agency NASA, according to a statement from the company.

Liftoff for the moon missions will be from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A near Cape Canaveral in Florida, the same launchpad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions.

Since the last of NASA's Apollo moon landings in 1972, no astronauts have traveled beyond low Earth orbit. That means an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years.

The two space tourists, who have not been named, have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission, according to the California-based company.

The company plans to launch its passenger flight in 2018 by using a Dragon 2 spacecraft and the massive new Falcon Heavy rocket.

SpaceX, founded in 2002 by billionaire Musk, has been the face of the US commercial space industry. It has been hired by NASA to resupply the International Space Station using its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo ship.

The company had a major setback in September, when its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, dealing a blow to the company's ambitious space exploration project and the US commercial space industry.

In June 2015, its Falcon 9 rocket exploded midair just minutes after liftoff during its seventh space station resupply mission.

As part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX needs to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew.


SpaceX plans to take 2 tourists on moon-circling trip in 2018

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