DAVID GREENE, HOST:
SpaceX says it will launch the first private moon mission next year. Here's NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce.
NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Elon Musk is the founder of SpaceX. He says the company was approached by two individuals who want to go to the moon. He won't name them, but says they're not movie stars.
ELON MUSK: Nobody from Hollywood.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: They've put down a substantial deposit. For a week, they'll fly in a capsule that loops around the moon and swoops close to its surface before returning to Earth. Does that sound slightly dangerous?
MUSK: Yeah. I mean, I think they are entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: After all, no one has been to the moon since NASA's Apollo program ended in 1972. And the big SpaceX rocket that would launch this trip hasn't even flown yet. Its first test is scheduled for this summer. On the other hand, SpaceX was the first private company to send a spacecraft to the space station. It now carries cargo to the station.
Next year, it's supposed to start taking NASA astronauts there as well. Can it do that for the first time and a moon mission in the same year?
JOHN LOGSDON: SpaceX is notorious - or notable, depending on how you want to think about it - for setting very ambitious schedules and usually not meeting them.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: John Logsdon is a space historian at George Washington University. But even if SpaceX misses some deadlines, this moon mission could happen.
LOGSDON: So far, eventually SpaceX has done everything it says it was going to do.
GREENFIELDBOYCE: So moon lovers just have to wait and see. Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.
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