Elon Musk reveals the first passenger SpaceX will send around the moon

Theresa Obrien
September 18, 2018

Maezawa is worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes, and founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer. "These masterpieces will continue to inspire all of us".

A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa, 42, will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialise space travel to new heights. Over the past two decades, the South African-born American entrepreneur has emerged as one of Silicon Valley's most recognized faces worldwide.

A total of 24 NASA astronauts - all white men - voyaged to the Moon during the Apollo era of the 1960s and '70s.

"It's not 100 percent certain that we succeed in getting this to flight", he said of BFR.

Maezawa has chartered a flight aboard the company's Big Falcon Rocket for a slingshot trip around the Moon, which is expected to take place in 2023. The trip was set to take place toward the end of this year, but was scrapped when SpaceX made a decision to switch the plan from its Falcon Heavy rocket to the more powerful BFR.

"He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster", Musk told the crowd.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

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The price for a SpaceX lunar mission is likely hefty, though Musk pointed out, "It's going to be free for the artists".

Yusaku Maezawa said his heart was already racing just thinking about the trip.

The rocket factory continues to hum along, so much so that during a recent media event to introduce the NASA astronauts assigned to fly on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft, there was a constant din of the factory that went on uninterrupted.

The company is still developing the BFR rocket, which will be the successor to SpaceX's oft-used Falcon 9 rocket and its upgraded version, the Falcon Heavy.

But newrenderings Musk shared this morning hint at significant design changes.

The BFR spacecraft's shape is reminiscent of the space shuttle, the bus-like U.S. spaceships that carried astronauts to space 135 times from 1981 to 2011. Musk plans to launch an unmanned cargo mission in 2022, with hopes of sending humans to Mars in 2024. A 90-minute flight costs US$250,000.

Besides running SpaceX and Tesla, Musk has also invested in the solar energy company SolarCity to turn his vision of a solar-powered future into a reality. "And late Sunday, Musk further fueled the anticipation by tweeting out artist renderings of the massive launch vehicle that SpaceX is developing to fly into deep space, with a simple message: "#OccupyMars".

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