Two Earthlings off to the moon in 2018

Rocket manufacturers SpaceX are launching two private citizens on a flight around the moon next year - the first mission to carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit since Apollo in the 1960s.

Company founder Elon Musk confirmed the flight, but declined to give any details about the passengers including how much they paid. 

Mr Musk told CBS News the mission is full steam ahead, and is part of the company's long-term goal to send humans to Mars.

"We've been approached to do a crewed mission beyond the moon from some private individuals," Musk said. "And they're very serious about it. We plan to do that, probably in the fourth quarter of next year. That would be on a Dragon 2 spacecraft and a Falcon Heavy rocket, which is due to do its maiden launch this summer."

The rocket, Dragon 2, is set to make its first unpiloted flight late this year and the first crewed launch in early 2018. The United States Government Accountability Office has cast doubts on those target dates, but SpaceX managers insist they can keep the program on track.