Japan billionaire is SpaceX's first Moon flight customer

What you need to know about the first tourist that SpaceX is taking around the moon
Japanese billionaire to be sent to moon by SpaceX says he'll bring along architects and other artists
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22 September, 2018

The Elon Musk-founded company will send 42-year-old Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa into deep space, but he doesn't want to take the trip all on his own.

However, Musk did say that Maezawa brought the idea to him and that the Japanese billionaire's money will help fund development of Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which the company plans to use for the lunar flight - and eventually, for a flight to Mars.

SpaceX revealed the first passenger its signed up to fly to the moon on Monday for one very expensive art project.

He will be inviting six to eight artists, designers, and other creative people on the journey around the moon.

"He's a very fearless person to do this", Mr Musk said of the Japanese entrepreneur.

"All right. Maybe we will both be on it", Musk said to cheers and applause.

Maezawa and whoever flies with him will join an exclusive club - only two dozen astronauts have ever visited the moon, and no one has been to the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

Yasaku Maezawa dedicated himself to the Internet fashion industry and is a founding art collector of Tokyo's Contemporary Art Foundation.

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He then built a shopping website called Zozotown, which made him rich. The announcement about world's first moon tourist was made SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Tuesday.

"Nothing is written in stone", Maezawa said through a translator.

According to the New York Times, Maezawa "may be best known" for his $110 million (£83 million) purchase of a 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting of a skull, a sum that his sister Lisane Basquiat referred to as leaving the family "speechless". He said, "As far as me going, I'm not sure. I choose to go to the moon with artists!". With enough thrust to carry almost a hundred people all the way to Mars, it's safe to say it won't be much of a problem to carry six-eight artists including crew to the moon and back.

The latest blueprints mark the final major redesign of the rocket, whose development is expected to cost roughly $5 billion, according to Musk.

But so far this year, his space firm has also kept up a schedule outpaced only by the Chinese government, making 15 launches with its Falcon 9 rocket. The company then plans to fly the capsule with a two-person crew in the second quarter of 2019.

In 2016 he sold $250 million worth of stock so he could buy more art.

SpaceX gave no details of the flight but said it would be "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space". 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. As the Post noted, it's been remarkably successful with "34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months" and a "massive backlog of commercial launch contracts".


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