SpaceX to take civilians on moon mission

They didn’t print up brochures, but SpaceX already has signed up a couple of space tourists.

Two wealthy and willing people have placed a “significant deposit” with SpaceX for a trip around the moon late next year, the company said Monday.

“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,” the company announced. No details were released about the identity of the prospective astronauts. They will be screened for fitness and suitability before the flight, and will undergo substantial training.

The company said other civilians have approached it for flights.

The mission will be powered with the company’s new Falcon Heavy rocket, which is scheduled for a test flight this summer.

SpaceX, founded in 2002, has a busy flight schedule ahead. It’s running shuttles for the NASA Commercial Crew program with its Dragon spacecraft.

CEO Elon Musk in September expanded on his goals to reach Mars through a transport system build by SpaceX. The Interplanetary Transport System would include a massive, 120-meter rocket with 28 million pounds of thrust and a capsule capable of carrying 100 people.

The manned moon orbits will be a step toward bringing humans to the red planet.

“These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars,” the company said.

Photo: The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, July 18, 2016. The Falcon 9 is headed to the International Space Station with 5,000 pounds of supplies. (John Raoux/AP)


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