Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be SpaceX’s first Moon tourist

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be SpaceX’s first Moon tourist

Elon Musk has revealed the identity of the billionaire who has paid to fly around the moon in a SpaceX rocket - in what is a giant leap for space tourism.

"SpaceX has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space", the company said on its website.

Elon Musk and his rocket company, SpaceX, plan to launch a private passenger named Yusaku Maezawa around the moon.

Musk says he's aiming for Maezawa's moonshot to take place in 2023.

But Musk threw a curve ball during a Falcon Heavy press conference earlier this year when he told reporters that, for the time being, SpaceX had no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself", he said. Or Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson or John Lennon?

His idea is to inspire the passengers and then bring their various works together in a collaborative showcase of art inspired by the Moon journey. He's planning to take six to eight artists with him on the mission free of charge. And you certainly can't decide basically on what he says. It's meant to hold up to 100 passengers on trips as far away as Mars.

The mission will not involve a lunar landing.

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

He wondered on stage what John Lennon, Coco Chanel, Michael Jackson or Andy Warhol would have created had they seen the Moon up close.

NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023. The space agency aims to build a gateway in the vicinity of the moon, complete with staff, during the 2020s.

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With SpaceX, founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels. In 2012, he started the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation to support young artists. In 2016, he had purchased paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso, which had cost him about $80 million.

It's not the same mission SpaceX founder Elon Musk outlined past year. Musk did not name the clients past year or say how much they would pay.

NASA is itself aiming to send astronauts into orbit beyond the moon by 2022, fifty-years after the Apollo 8 mission became the first to send humans beyond low earth orbit.

And the name of that lucky space tourist?

Musk described Maezawa as incredibly courageous, and said his desire to participate in and pay for this trip restored Musk's faith in humanity.

SpaceX already has a long list of firsts, with its sights ultimately set on Mars.

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behavior and the struggles of his Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver.

The moon journey announcement came just hours after it was confirmed that the British diver Vernon Unsworth had filed a defamation lawsuit over Musk labelling him a "pedo".

The British diver, Vernon Unsworth, sued Musk for defamation on Monday and is seeking more than $75,000.

He has alleged that a cave diver in Thailand who helped rescue stranded boys was a 'pedo, ' smoked what appeared to be marijuana on a comedian's podcast, spooked Tesla investors with comments about the future of the electric auto maker, and admitted to exhaustion and use of the sleeping pill Ambien.

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