Elon Musk announced yesterday plans to start flying tourists around the moon. The SpaceX Ceo said two wealthy individuals already paid an undisclosed amount of money to fly to and orbit around the moon.

Expanding horizons

Musk has never shied away from extraordinary challenges facing anyone of his companies or pursuing his vision of making the human race an interplanetary species. Now, SpaceX is taking the next logical step in achieving Musk’s mandate. Musk told reporters the manned mission to the moon would take place in late 2018, which does not give SpaceX much time to prepare.

The voyage to the moon will require a larger rocket than the current Falcon rocket used to ferry supplies back and forth to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is big enough to get the job done, but the rocket will not make its first flight until sometime this summer.

Dragon

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has been ferrying supplies to ISS, but the crew version of the Dragon capsule has yet to make its initial run. An unmanned test flight of the new Dragon capsule is scheduled for the spring of 2018, and if all things go well with life supporting equipment on the capsule, Musk may actually be able to hit his target date of late 2018 for rocketing people off to the moon.

Space tourists

Musk did not release the names of the two individuals who already paid deposits, but he did say they were "nobody from Hollywood.". Considering the trip to the moon will take anywhere between six to seven days to complete, these individuals will be flying under considerable risk and also have to learn much before even stepping into the Dragon capsule.

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Musk said the tourists understood the risks associated with space travel and the two tourists will receive "extensive training before going on the mission."

Musk the ever hopeful entrepreneur and risk taker has upped the ante once again with this latest announcement. The last mission to the moon, Apollo 17, was over forty years ago so maybe 2018 will mark the beginning of a new age of commercialized space exploration.