Japanese Billionaire to Be SpaceX’s First Passenger to the Moon

Enlarge Image Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa speaks about his moon mission through SpaceX.                  Video screenshot by CNET

Enlarge Image Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa speaks about his moon mission through SpaceX. Video screenshot by CNET

The SpaceX CEO held a press conference Monday where he announced Yusaku Maezawa as the first private citizen the company would be sending around the moon in their new BFR spacecraft.

It's unclear how much Maezawa paid for the seats. Maezawa will spend about a week on the journey, according to SpaceX, which says the trip will come within up to 125 miles of the Moon's surface before turning around and returning to Earth.

'This is my lifelong dream'.

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

He has not decided which artists to invite, but will be reaching out to painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, fashion designers and others.

Maezawa announced on Monday that he plans to select six to eight artists to accompany him on his journey around the moon. "These masterpieces will continue to inspire all of us".

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Maezawa's project will be called Dear Moon.

He will become the first non-American to orbit the moon. He has accused, without proof, one of the cave divers who participated in the rescue of a Thai youth football team of being a paedophile.

'He stepped forward, ' Musk added.

The amount Maezawa is paying for the trip was not disclosed, however, Musk said the businessman outlaid a significant deposit and will have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR.

"To be clear: This is risky", the billionaire explained. This is no walk in the park, ' Musk cautioned. When you're pushing the frontier, it's not a sure thing. There is a chance something could go wrong'. Aerospace experts who follow Musk and SpaceX's activities suggest there could be more iterations before the company's first lunar voyage lifts off the launch pad. He had said that the trip would happen this year.

Musk laid out his first design for the mammoth two-stage BFR in 2016 at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico, and refined it for the 2017 IAC meeting in Australia. It consists of a massive rocket booster that promises to out-power any that has ever been built and a towering spacecraft, nicknamed BFS for Big Falcon Spaceship, that will vault out of the Earth's atmosphere.

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Read everything we know about the BFR and its spaceship design here.

Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.

NASA has also hired SpaceX and Boeing to develop commercial space trips from the US.

Now the Elon Musk show returned to the sprawling SpaceX headquarters outside Los Angeles, where the company will - whether intentionally or not - provide a prime-time diversion to the troubles surrounding its celebrity chief executive by providing details about its long-anticipated moon shot. "But we're going to do everything humanly possible to bring it to flight as fast as we can and as safely as we can".

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.

Last week, video of him smoking marijuana during a podcast appearance sent Tesla shares tumbling.

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