Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Elon Musk and SpaceX unveils the first private passenger to the Moon

Elon Musk and SpaceX unveils the first private passenger to the Moon

SpaceX officials announced last week that it had reached an agreement to send a private citizen on a voyage around the moon, making the person the first to travel to the moon since 1972, even though the trip won't include an actual landing on the lunar surface.

Maezawa, who is well known as an art collector, is calling the flight the "Dear Moon project".

He appeared at an event Monday at SpaceX headquarters near Los Angeles. Sixteen successful missions for SpaceX this year is a bright spot in an otherwise tumultuous few months for Musk, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. His tweet of a Japanese flag emoji, fueled speculation that the mystery passenger is a Japanese businessperson.

"The first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is fashion innovator and globally recognised art curator Yusaku Maezawa", SpaceX tweeted on Monday.

SpaceX plans a lunar orbit mission.

How much did Maezawa may SpaceX for the trip? After their journey, the artists will be asked to create something inspired by the trip to "inspire the dreamer within all of us", Maezawa said.

Maezawa famously spent $110 million on a 1982 painting by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and says he wants to invite other artists to join him in space. He says just thinking about the journey gets his heart racing.

But it is reliant on a rocket that has not been built yet, and Mr Musk cautioned: "It's not 100% certain we can bring this to flight".

According to Forbes, Maezawa is the 18th richest man in Japan with a fortune of $2.9 billion. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit.

Musk described a slightly scaled-down 348-foot-tall rocket in September 2017 and announced that the private space company aimed to launch two cargo missions to Mars in 2022.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber are among those who have so far signed up for 90 minute sub-orbital flights with Virgin Galactic at a cost of $250,000.

The Big Falcon Rocket will travel around the moon and back. The company has previously created rockets that can be landed and reused, and it is working on its Dragon capsule to eventually carry astronauts to the ISS.

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