SpaceX to send privately crewed spacecraft beyond the moon next year


Posted at Feb 28 2017 07:13 AM

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on a supply mission to the International Space Station from historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US February 19, 2017. Joe Skipper, Reuters

Private launch company SpaceX plans to fly two paying customers on a tourist trip around the moon using a spaceship under development for NASA astronauts and a heavy-lift rocket that has not yet flown, Chief Executive Elon Musk told reporters on Monday.

The launch of the first-ever privately funded tourist flight beyond the International Space Station is tentatively targeted for late 2018, Musk told reporters on a conference call.

He declined to identify the customers or say how much they would pay to fly on the week-long mission, except to say that it’s "nobody from Hollywood." He also said the two prospective space tourists know each other.

“We would expect to do more than one mission of this nature,” he added. “This should be incredibly exciting."

(Reporting by Irene Klotz at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Editing by Steve Gorman and Jonathan Oatis)