Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX has won a $2.9bn (£2.1bn) NASA contract to build a spacecraft to put humans on the moon.
SpaceX will need to complete a test flight “to fully check out all systems with a landing on the lunar surface prior to our formal demonstration mission”, NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.
Mr Musk is one of the world’s richest people thanks to his 22% stake in electric car maker Tesla, now the world’s most valuable vehicle manufacturer.
His publicly stated aim is to put humans on Mars, but so far, SpaceX has mainly been used to launch satellites for his Starlink internet venture, and other satellites and space cargo.
The SpaceX programme has suffered considerable teething problems, with another failed landing for its prototype Starship spacecraft last month.
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