Two private astronauts will have the chance pay SpaceX to circle the moon

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Back in 1969 when the first people embarked the journey to the moon, they were trained by the military, used NASA shuttles and backed by the U.S. government.
27 Feb 2017 – LA Times
In typical fashion, SpaceX’s audacious billionaire founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, provided few details about the expedition.

Musk wouldn’t say who will make the flight in late 2018, how much it will cost in total or how much the astronauts are paying.

He did say that the two individuals had come to him and asked if SpaceX would set up the flight, and that they are “nobody from Hollywood.”

They’ve put down their deposits and will start fitness tests and training later this year.

“This should be a very exciting mission that hopefully gets the world really excited about sending people into deep space again,” Musk said a conference call with reporters.

The moon flight is the most ambitious yet for the nascent private space industry.

Other rich tech entrepreneurs with projects include Richard Branson, whose start-up Virgin Galactic has been taking reservations for its suborbital space flights at $250,000 a pop, and Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin company also plans suborbital flights.

Musk’s plan faces abundant hurdles.

For one, the rocket that will lift the crewed capsule, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, hasn’t flown yet.

The rocket, which is more powerful than the ones used by SpaceX to deliver satellites into orbit, is set to launch for the first time this summer.

On SpaceX’s website, the cost of a Falcon Heavy launch next year starts at $90 million.

The lunar mission will be launched from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Pad 39A was the launch pad for Apollo and space shuttle missions.

The last moon landing mission, Apollo 17, left there in 1972.

“It’s not easy,” John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, said of Musk’s plan.

“Remember, Elon last September said he was sending people to Mars in 2025. Compared to that, this is a slam dunk. But only compared to that.”

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