SpaceX announced this week that it plans to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon next 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,” the company said in a statement.
Health and fitness tests, as well as training, will begin later this year, according to SpaceX.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided funding for SpaceX’s Dragon 2 development, is “a key enabler for this mission,” the company says.
Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX says it will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth.
“Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral—the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions,” SpaceX says. “This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.”
The Dragon spacecraft was purpose-built to transport humans, the company says.