SpaceX has announced a new plan to launch a tourist around the moon.

The trip would use the company's Big F***ing Rocket (BFR), a massive launch vehicle that is being designed to carry people into deep space.

"SpaceX has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space," the company said on Twitter, reports Daily Mail.

SpaceX gave no further details, but said more information would follow on Monday.

Advertisement

This is not the first time the California-based company, headed by controversial Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has touted plans to send tourists around the moon.

In February, 2017, SpaceX announced it would send the world's first two space tourists around the moon in late 2018.

That plan called for them to ride on a Dragon crew vehicle, similar to the cargo ships that SpaceX routinely sends loaded with supplies to the International Space Station.

They would have blasted off aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket.

However, the company has remained tight-lipped about those plans in recent months.

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

SpaceX declined a request for more details, but said further information would follow Monday at an event lasting from 5:30pm to 7:00pm ET (00:30 to 02:00 BST).

The BFR is SpaceX's newest rocket, a powerful launch vehicle with 31 engines and the capacity to lift 150 tons into space.

During a speech in Australia last year, Musk said he was hopeful that the BFR would be able to launch and land two cargo ships on Mars by 2022.

"I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and launch in about five years," Musk said.

The top part of the BFR rocket has 40 cabins, which could hold up to six passengers.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to the moon using its massive fuel capacity - 1,200 tons of liquid oxygen.

SpaceX has announced a new plan to launch a tourist around the moon. Photo / SpaceX
SpaceX has announced a new plan to launch a tourist around the moon. Photo / SpaceX

It's an ambitious project - one that could ultimately make or break SpaceX - but Musk's company stands to make billions if it pulls it off.

However, Musk has a long history of underestimating how long his ambitious projects will take to get off the ground.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, which launched for the first time to great furore in February, was originally scheduled to undertake its initial test flight in 2013.

Musk admitted in July 2017: "It actually ended up being way harder to do Falcon Heavy than we thought.

"Really way, way more difficult than we originally thought. We were pretty naive about that."

SpaceX says BFR missions to the moon's surface will use the Earth's gravitational pull to whip it around the planet before sling-shotting to the rocky satellite. Photo / SpaceX
SpaceX says BFR missions to the moon's surface will use the Earth's gravitational pull to whip it around the planet before sling-shotting to the rocky satellite. Photo / SpaceX

The BFR has yet to undergo any engine tests - which typically take place over the course of several months - and that's before the unmanned flight tests SpaceX will need to carry out long before it can safely transport passengers.

It is unlikely the rocket will fly tourists until at least the mid-2020s.

Humans have not set foot on the Moon since the final Apollo mission in 1972, capping an era of US national pride.

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".

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

US President Donald Trump has championed plans to put boots on the Moon again, as NASA works on building a lunar gateway that would serve as a launching point for missions heading even further into deep space, such as asteroids or Mars.

SpaceX is a key commercial partner to NASA, and is working on a crew ship that will make its first flight to the orbiting International Space Station next year.

It successful, the company would restore access to space from US soil for the first time since 2011, when the space shuttle program was retired after 30 years.

Boeing is also hard at work on its crew vehicle, with pioneering flights planned for 2019 as well.

SpaceX currently has a $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion) contract with NASA to supply the astronauts living at the ISS, via regular cargo trips on its Dragon spaceship, launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.