SpaceX plans to send two people to moon in 2018

A Space X Falcon9 rocket sits on the launch pad, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla Last-minute rocket trouble forced SpaceX on Saturday to delay its inaugural launch from NASA's historic moon pad. SpaceX halted the countdown with just 13 seconds remaining. The problem with the second-stage thrust control actually cropped up several minutes earlier. With just a single second to get the Falcon rocket airborne, flight controllers could not resolve the issue in time. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (AP) – SpaceX says it will fly two people to the moon next year.

Company chief Elon Musk announced the surprising news Monday.

Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. Musk won’t identify the pair or the price tag. He says they’ve already paid a “significant” deposit.

Musk says SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This moon mission would follow about six months later, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket.

Musk says the moon mission is designed to be autonomous – unless something goes wrong. SpaceX says the passengers would fly to the moon, but won’t land on it.

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