SpaceX: Japanese Billionaire To Be First "Private Passenger" On Moon Flight

James Marshall
September 23, 2018

"The first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is fashion innovator and globally recognised art curator Yusaku Maezawa", SpaceX tweeted on Monday. SpaceX is still working to built the 387-foot Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) it plans to use for its moon flight. He said he wanted the artists "to see the moon up close, and the earth in full view, and create work to reflect their experience".

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. Maezawa plans to select six to eight artists to accompany him on his journey around the moon.

SpaceX now has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the astronauts living at the ISS, via regular cargo trips on its Dragon spaceship, launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

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

On top of the announcement Musk shared concept art and early designs for the Big Falcon Rocket on Twitter.

An art lover with a vision, the Japanese entrepreneur has chose to not just buy a seat on the rocket, but every seat available-in fact he's already made a down payment that will help with BFR development costs.

Maezawa isn't going to the moon alone.

If it all goes to plan this will be the first manned mission to the moon since the Apollo 17 landing back in 1972.

SpaceX says it's signed the first private passenger to fly around the Moon in one of its rockets, and will reveal the mystery passenger's name at 6 p.m.

"When you're pushing the frontier, it's not a sure thing". It aims to launch its first crewed mission to the space station in the second quarter of 2019.

As Reuters reports, the actual cost of the trip hasn't been revealed, but Maezawa noted that the journey will set him back significantly more than his art purchases. "There's some chance something could go wrong".

Last year, Musk said the BFR's admittedly "ambitious" goal was to make a test flight to Mars in 2022, followed by a crewed flight to the Red Planet in 2024.

The BFR is SpaceX's upcoming two-stage reusable spaceship system that will weigh 9.7 million pounds and be capable of taking a 330,000 pound payload to Mars and lower-Earth orbit (LEO), officials say.

"A lot of people are looking at the moon as a staging ground for these deeper space missions", said Bill Ostrove, aerospace and defense analyst at market research firm Forecast International.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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