SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

FILE - In this May 29, 2014, file photo, Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, introduces the SpaceX Dragon V2 spaceship at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk predicted during an interview at the Code Conference in southern California on June 1, 2016, that people would be on Mars in 2025. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX says it will fly two people to the moon next year.

Company chief Elon Musk announced the surprising news Monday.

Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. Musk won’t identify the pair or the price tag. He says they’ve already paid a “significant” deposit.

Musk says SpaceX is on track to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in mid-2018. This moon mission would follow about six months later, using a Dragon crew capsule and a Falcon heavy rocket.

Musk says the moon mission is designed to be autonomous — unless something goes wrong. SpaceX says the passengers would fly to the moon, but won’t land on it.

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