Friday, 19 October, 2018

This billionaire will be the first tourist to fly around the moon

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Sherry Houston | 18 September, 2018, 10:17

Last week, SpaceX posted on Twitter that it "has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard our [Big Falcon Rocket] - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling into space".

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks at the September 17 SpaceX event about his plans to fly artists around the moon on a BFR mission.

Musk had previously said he wanted 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.

Our correspondent, Mary MacCarthy, joins us from Los Angeles.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself", he said.

The billionaire tweeted out an emoji of the Japanese flag, sparking speculation that a billionaire from Japan was planning to make the flight.

Shortly after his successful Falcon Heavy Launch, Musk said he expected a "full-scale test" of the massive rocket within the next few years.

At the time, the name of the people who purchased the seats remained confidential - with confirmation that Maezawa was the sole person to buy the two seats only coming at the event this evening.

"I wish to create unbelievable works of art for humankind", Maezawa said.

It will be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.

'They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth.

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

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

Musk has not revealed how much his "Lunar BFR Mission" will cost in the long run, but Maezawa surely won't have a hard time footing the bill.

Shotwell estimated that the BFR will launch within a decade.

Musk outlined a somewhat different SpaceX mission a year ago.

Falcon Heavy's maiden flight was shown as part of SpaceX's evolution towards BFR. "In order to minimize the development risk and cost, we chose to "commonize" the engine between the booster and ship", Musk said, adding that Raptor engines that are optimized for vacuum conditions could be added back in later.

SpaceX's passenger will be the first person to take a space flight toward the moon who did not train through a formal program like NASA.

Speaking to reporters via teleconference the day before Falcon Heavy's maiden voyage, Mr. Musk - with no forewarning - announced that the Falcon Heavy rocket would not be human rated and would not be used to carry crew. He had said that the trip would happen this year.

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