Fly me to the moon - okay, says Elon Musk

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SpaceX originally planned to send two paying passengers on a flight around the moon this year using its Falcon Heavy rocket and a Dragon capsule.

The identity of the passenger is set to be announced on a webcast on the company's website Monday, September 17 at 6pm PT.

SpaceX first floated the idea of sending private people around the moon in early 2017, saying two people had "paid a significant deposit" for the mission. On a Twitter thread underneath the main announcement, a verified Twitter account attributed to CEO Elon Musk tweeted a picture of a Japanese flag.

Only 24 people in history have ever been to the Moon.

The company said more details would be made available on Monday.

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The names and identities of those two tourists - and how much they meant to pay - were never revealed.

Thursday night's tweet also included a new image of the Big Falcon Rocket, which has long remained under wraps since the company announced it would undergo changes to make its production and deployment more feasible.

American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to explore the lunar surface in 1969, a moment seen and heard around the world when Armstrong declared "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

SpaceX has established its bona fides in the aerospace business by transporting supplies to the International Space Station and by completing the tricky maneuver of recovering rockets after launch so that they can be reused.

"We've been approached to do a crewed mission beyond the moon from some private individuals", he said at the time.

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