SpaceX said Monday it plans to fly two private citizens on a mission around the moon by late 2018 as part of a lunar journey that would last about a week and travel deeper into space than any human has ventured before.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk would not name the two individuals, who he said approached the company and would pay for the flight.
In a call with reporters, Musk said he is not in competition with the government space agency, and that if NASA wanted to partner on the lunar mission that would take priority over the two private individuals.
“What matters is the advancement of space exploration and exceeding the high-water mark that was set in 1969 with the Apollo program,” he said. “And having a really exciting future in space that inspires the world.”
In a blog post, he said the mission “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.”
What matters is the advancement of space exploration and exceeding the high-water mark that was set in 1969 with the Apollo program”
SpaceX’s lunar mission is yet another in a series of grand plans announced by SpaceX. Since Musk founded it in 2002, it has made one bold proclamation after another, often earning jeers from skeptics who say that he moves too fast in an industry that demands caution.
While it has had two of its rockets blow up, Musk said Monday that the company’s “success rate is actually quite high.”
Still he acknowledged the dangers of the mission.
The passengers “are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here” he said. “They are certainly not naïve. We’ll do everything we can to minimize that risk. But it’s not zero.”
Read more: The Washington Post.