Tourists could follow in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and become the first people to visit the moon in more than 40 years – provided they can afford £100 million to fund the mission.
Excalibur Almaz, a British space company based on the Isle of Man, has announced plans to make the first trip to the moon since the Apollo 17 mission of 1972.
The company has acquired a fleet of former Soviet shuttles and space stations and is planning the mission in three years time.
The flight, which would last four months and fly past the moon at a distance of 1000km, is open to anyone who can finance it including government-sponsored researchers, space agency scientists or even billionaires with money to burn.
But any space enthusiast wishing to make the trip would have to be willing to fly the craft themself because no trained astronauts would accompany them on their odyssey, the company said.
Art Dula, who founded the company in 2005, announced a plan to carry out the first test flight in 2014 and the first civilian voyage a year later in a speech at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London yesterday.
Excalibur Almaz acquired its fleet from NPO Mashinostroyenia, the Russian company which designed the Almaz space programme, and refitted the six craft with "off the shelf" modern systems.
On its website the company says: "Each EA space station boasts 90 cubic metres of pressurised volume, which is plenty for a crew to survive in relative comfort for months at a time. The fleet is at a very high level of space readiness and, crucially, has a proven emergency-escape system."
Mr Dula admitted his plan sounded "somewhat unbelievable" but insisted he would have no shortage of takers.
Dr Dave Parker of the UK Space Agency said the move was part of a "whole new world" of private space travel but added that he was "pretty sceptical" that a civilian could be trained to fly a spacecraft in the space of a year.
He said: "What they are doing is trying to put together some pieces of existing technology from Russia with a few bits of new technology so that they can re-use it and they have been trying to develop this idea for a good few years now.
"Obviously the reality is they do not have the investment to do any of this at the moment. But good luck to them, people have got to try things like this."