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SpaceX to send 2 private citizens around the moon

SpaceX to send 2 private citizens around the moon
Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 17:08:31-05

SpaceX announced on Monday plans to send two private citizens on a trip around the moon, marking the first manned mission well beyond Earth's atmosphere in more than four decades. 

According to SpaceX, the crew will circumnavigate the moon before returning to Earth late in 2018. The crew is set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

SpaceX said that two private citizens have paid a "significant" deposit to participate in next year's mission. SpaceX plans on performing health and fitness test on the riders at some point in 2017.

Besides using some private funding, the SpaceX mission is significant for not using military personnel to send humans to the moon. 

Besides using NASA facilities for the launch, SpaceX said that NASA has helped in developing the rocket that will send citizens into space. 

"NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission," SpaceX said in a statement. "In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket."

SpaceX said part of the long-term goal of the program is to send humans to Mars and deep space.