Japanese billionaire to make first tourist moon visit

Lawrence Kim
September 19, 2018

On Tuesday Maezawa joined Elon Musk at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to announce he will be the first tourist to be taken around the moon on SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is expected to launch in 2023.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20 million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

Musk called Maezawa a "very fearless person" to take the flight to the moon. He is an avid art collector, and in 2016 he spent $80 million on paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso, two artists he cited as inspirations during Monday's event. "I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon", Maezawa said.

Maezawa announced on his Twitter and Instagram accounts that he plans to take a select group of artists with him on his trip around the Moon said: "I choose to go to the Moon, with artists", adding then "What will they see?" "As far as me going, I'm not sure".

"He's a very fearless person to do this", Musk said of the Japanese entrepreneur.

"Lasting about a week, the journey will come as close as 125 miles to the Moon's surface before completing lunar transit and returning back to Earth", SpaceX said. At the moment, the Big Falcon Rocket is not built, so getting it into flight condition within just a few short years will be a challenge.

Musk said Maezawa had outlaid a significant deposit and would have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR, which he estimated at about $5 billion.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut traveled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission. His company, Zozo, officially called Start Today Co Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit.

Musk 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. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000. The moon trip would last four to five days, he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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