Four days before Christmas in 1968, Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first human beings ever to leave Earth and successfully complete an orbit around the moon.  It was the second manned flight of the Apollo program, and its success created the basis for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic first steps on the moon the following year.

Today, almost fifty years later, only twenty-four human beings, out of billions, have ever accomplished a similar feat – and on Monday, SpaceX announced plans to add to that number for the first time since 1972, with a manned mission to orbit the moon slated for 2018.

SpaceX, one of the largest and most successful private space flight organizations in business today, has repeatedly made headlines in recent years for their re-usable rocket stages that can land under their own power after separating during launch, as well as for dramatic footage of failed rockets exploding on the launch pad.  Currently, SpaceX contracts through NASA to deliver equipment and supplies to the International Space Station among other things, but in a statement released on Monday, SpaceX and its visionary founder Elon Musk, now intend to take the next step toward space tourism.

Two wealthy people who have already provided “significant deposits” will crew a SpaceX dragon capsule launched via the Falcon Heavy, a much bigger rocket than what is currently in use by SpaceX.  From there, they will begin their journey around the moon – venturing further from planet Earth than any but two dozen have ever traveled before, and possibly even further.