NASA astronaut offers to ride along on SpaceX BFR moon mission

SpaceX Japanese billionaire first tourist to fly to moon

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Yusaku Maezawa, Japanese billionaire and founder of the Zozotown portal is the very first person to book a private spot on SpaceX's Falcon Rocket on a trip around the moon.

Maezawa has chartered a flight aboard the company's Big Falcon Rocket, which is still being developed, for a slingshot trip around the Moon as soon as 2023.

Mr Maezawa's identity was revealed at an event on Monday evening at the company's headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.

Maezawa says he will invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people on a weeklong journey to circumnavigate the moon.

The BFR (which stands for "Big Falcon Rocket", or "Big F-- Rocket") is created to help humanity settle Mars and other worlds throughout the solar system, Musk has said.

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After joining SpaceX on stage, Maezawa said that he can finally announce that he has chosen to go to the moon. Forbes reports that his net worth is $2.9 billion, though the tycoon had humble beginnings in business, starting by selling CDs and records when he was younger.

Near the end of the 70-minute presentation, Maezawa also offered a seat on the vehicle to Musk, who wants to extend humanity throughout the solar system but has been rather circumspect on his own personal spaceflight inclinations.

The BFR will stand about 387 feet (118 meters) tall, and both its rocket and spaceship components will be reusable.

The mission will not actually land on the moon, the BBC reported. The outpost would serve as a stepping-off point for the lunar surface, Mars and points beyond.

Only 24 astronauts have flown beyond Earth's protective magnetic shield, in missions spanning a four-year period from December 1968 to December 1972. "I don't know", Musk said. The company then plans to fly the capsule with a two-person crew in the second quarter of 2019.

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"It's not 100 per cent certain we can bring this to flight", Mr Musk said of the lunar mission.

Maezawa made his fortune by building up Start Today, an e-commerce business that includes a popular online clothing site in Japan.

He made headlines in 2016 when he paid more than $57 million at auction for an untitled work by Basquiat. He is also known for having dropped $110 million on a painting by the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat past year at a Sotheby's auction.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic are also battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, but neither have so far announced pkans as ambitious as SpaceX. Last month he told the New York Times he was overwhelmed by job stress.

"These are all artists that I adore, but sadly they are no longer with us", he said. Musk continues to maintain Commercial Crew as a priority for SpaceX now.

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