Japanese billionaire revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveller

Japanese billionaire revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveller

Japanese billionaire revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveller

SpaceX announced Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be its first passenger to orbit the moon in its Big Falcon Rocket.

Musk said the entrepreneur, founder of Japan's largest retail website and one of the country's richest people, will pay "a lot of money" for the trip but declined to disclose the exact amount. "I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon", Maezawa said.

The mission, now planned for 2023, will take place on SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket. One downside is that Musk's Big Falcon Rocket is not yet built.

The mission, which is now planned for 2023, will mark the first visit to the Moon by humans since NASA's Apollo 17 landing in 1972.

SpaceX made the announcement from its headquarters in Hawthorne, California - not far from where the Emmy awards were being handed out in Los Angeles on Monday evening.

Maezawa is not shy when it comes to spending his riches, as evidenced when he made headlines for shelling out a record $110.5 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting of a skull previous year.

Maezawa's other hobby is amassing valuable works of modern art and previous year, he announced the acquisition of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece worth $110.5mn.

Musk would not say what the trip would cost, but did say that the design of the almost 400-foot tall rocket had evolved recently, with the first flights to orbit coming in two to three years. "So, I choose to go to the Moon with artists". "They say, who is this Maezawa person?" "As far as me going, I'm not sure".

This isn't the first time Musk has vowed to send tourists around the Moon.

Maezawa says the planned trip to space is a way "to inspire the dreamer in all of us". "And it sounds insane but everything we've ever done has sounded insane to people, both people that love us and people that don't like us so much".

Musk showed off designs for the 118-metre long BFR, which will consist of a first stage with engines and fuel systems, and a second stage with the spacecraft where the passengers will ride.

Next month brings the 50th anniversary of Apollo 7, which included the first live television broadcast from space, while December marks 50 years since Apollo 8, which was the first human mission to fly around the moon (without landing)-basically the same route Maezawa and his crew will take. He is an avid art collector, and in 2016 he spent $80 million on paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso, two artists he cited as inspirations during Monday's event.

Boeing Co. and SpaceX have contracts with NASA to fly the agency's astronauts to the International Space Station as part of what's known as the Commercial Crew Program. Bezos' Blue Origin has been tight-lipped about the price of its tickets, but Reuters reported in July that they could cost in the $200,000 range.

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