SpaceX announces plan to fly 2 tourists around the moon in 2018

Elements of this 3d rendered image furnished by NASA.

WASHINGTON — Two thrill seekers are paying SpaceX to make a trip around the moon next year.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced Monday afternoon that the space tourists had already placed a significant deposit for the trip. The travelers will undergo fitness tests and begin training later this year.

“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 said in a blog post.

For takeoff, SpaceX will use the same launch pad near Cape Canaveral, Florida, that was used for the Apollo programs missions.

The company doesn’t expect this to be a one-time mission. SpaceX said that other people have expressed strong interest in making the trip. The names of the first two travelers have not been released. They are likely paying millions for the adventure.

For comparison, space tourists have previously paid the Russia government upwards of $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station. SpaceX has not publicly revealed the price of its trip.

“Next year is going to be a big year for carrying people to the space station and hopefully beyond,” Musk said in a conference call with reporters.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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