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SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. Photo Credit: AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - 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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