SpaceX announced Monday that it plans to send two private individuals around the Moon by the end of 2018, a highly ambitious flight that would mark the first human return to deep space in nearly 50 years. During a teleconference with reporters, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the two people would fly an approximately week-long mission in a “long loop” around the Moon, to about 400,000 miles from Earth, before returning home.
Musk said the company would launch its Dragon 2 spacecraft on top of a Falcon Heavy rocket and that the two passengers would be flying solo, without the assistance of professional astronauts. Dragon 2, he said, is designed as an autonomous vehicle. The paying customers would not be blind to the risks, he added. "I think they are entering this with their eyes open, knowing there is some risk here," Musk said. "They’re not naive. We’re going to do everything we can do to minimize our risk, but the risk is not zero."
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