Elon Musk names Japanese billionaire for around-the-moon space trip

Dave Mosher  Business Insider Elon Musk the founder of SpaceX and the rocket company’s chief designer

Dave Mosher Business Insider Elon Musk the founder of SpaceX and the rocket company’s chief designer

To travel to the Moon, Maezawa will fly on board the company's upcoming BFR rocket, which SpaceX is now building and promises to take humanity to Mars and beyond. The passenger will be Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, 42.

Musk said the billionaire will pay "a lot of money" for the lunar orbit but he declined to disclose the exact amount.

While Tesla has been plagued by production problems, SpaceX, which is also led by president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell, has been far more stable, churning out 34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months.

It also said it would reveal "why" - implying the mission may have a goal other than simply satisfying the whim of a wealthy client - as was the case with the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20 million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

Yusaku Maezawa made his fortune selling clothes online.

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Shares of his company Start Today fell as much as 4.7% after the announcement, before narrowing its slide to 0.6% in Tokyo.

But the unveiling, in the shadow of the engines of two massive and gleaming rockets, was also a testament to Musk's belief in making humans a multi-planet species.

The latest blueprints mark the final major redesign of the rocket, whose development is expected to cost roughly $5 billion, according to Musk. These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us. Start Today said the art project, #dearMoon, will see the participating artists create works inspired by their time in space.

"All of that noise in the background, that is the sound of wonderful things happening", NASA astronaut Victor Glover said. "Please don't say no", Maezawa said.

The first would-be civilian passenger to the moon was already signalling his interest in outer space before the announcement. "And it sounds insane but everything we've ever done has sounded insane to people, both people that love us and people that don't like us so much".

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Musk and other private spaceflight CEOs have been striving to fill that gap with spacecraft that can get crews to the ISS and beyond. He sent out a series of tweets of appreciation for the agency, including one in response to Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The company's Space Dragon crew capsule, which is meant to take astronauts to the International Space Station, missed an initial target date of 2017 and won't see a manned test until 2019.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut travelled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission. Theoretically, it's capable of carrying a 150 ton payload Mars and returning with 50 tons on board, but its first flight will be significantly less burdened.

But for now, the company has yet to fly a human into space.

The space agency is planning its own lunar flyby with a crew around 2023. Musk has said he wants it to be able to carry a payload of 100 people into space, and/or the hardware to keep them alive once they get there.

Maezawa will fly on Space Exploration Technologies Corp's BFR rocket on a trip around the moon in 2023, Musk announced Monday. So, in Elvis Presley fashion, he bought out the venue and is going to invite a number of artists to go along on the Moon trip with him.

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"He stepped forward", Musk added. "To be clear, we're honored that he would choose us". A video presentation about him said he believes art can help usher in world peace.

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