Japanese billionaire revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveller

Gerardo Harmon
September 22, 2018

The amount Mr Maezawa is paying for the trip was not disclosed, but he told Reuters the total sum was "much higher" than the cost of a Basquiat painting. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early past year to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them".

"Nothing is written in stone", Maezawa said through a translator. "So, I choose to go to the Moon with artists".

According to The New York Times, seven people have paid to go to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

The trip is expected to take off in 2023 using the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket, the most powerful rocket flying today. The Japanese billionaire said he plans to invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people to join him on board the SpaceX rocket "to inspire the dreamer in all of us". The announcement about world's first moon tourist was made SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Tuesday.

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Per the Verge, Musk also showed off another revision to the BFR, stating that the new design would have seven instead of six large Raptor engines, boast additional cargo room on the rocket's bottom, and have three instead of two rear fins as well as front actuator fins. Last year, he announced the acquisition of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece worth $110.5 million.

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. "Yeah, maybe we will both be on it".

The chief executive of electric carmaker Tesla has previously said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip. After all, Musk has long maintained that helping make humanity a multiplanet species is the main reason he established SpaceX back in 2002.

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

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The first test demonstration is anticipated for 2019, with a "short-hop" vertical launch and landing of the BFS at the SpaceX Brownsville, Texas, test site.

Shotwell said Monday that SpaceX is planning to conduct a test flight of a version of the Dragon capsule that can carry astronauts before the end of the year.

So just who is this eccentric billionaire risking his life to be SpaceX's first space tourist? 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".

Two of Musk's fellow billionaires - Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group's Richard Branson - also want to make a business out of space tourism. Blue Origin's price has not been revealed.

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