Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Japanese billionaire to be first private moon flight traveler

BFR_SpaceX SpaceX gets first private passenger for moon trip
Sherry Houston | 20 September, 2018, 11:30

Bottom line: Elon Musk and SpaceX headquarters plan to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa - with a group of artists - on a loop around the moon and back to Earth in 2023.

"Their masterpieces will inspire all the dreamers that are asleep in us", he said. "I thought long and hard about how it would be very valuable to become the first private passenger to go to the moon".

The company considered the would-be trip an "important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space". "Ever since I was a kid I've loved the Moon, that is while I didn't pass up this opportunity to see the Moon up close".

But did add: "It's not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight".

SpaceX announced in February 2017 that two people had signed up for a weeklong trek around the moon, which the company aimed to launch before the end of 2018.

As curiosity mounts over the futuristic BFR, Musk tweeted three images, showing it will consist of a first stage with engines and fuel systems, and a second stage with the spacecraft where the passengers will ride.

No one has gone to the moon since the Apollo astronauts, with the last trip in 1972.

Big Falcon Rocket
Big Falcon Rocket

"So that is why I choose to go to the Moon with artists", said Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the Japanese retail website Zozotown, on Monday. Once the artists return to the Earth, they will compose a work inspired by their experience. It was not clear how much Maezawa paid for the trip.

"He has chosen us", said the mercurial founder of SpaceX, also boss of the auto manufacturer Tesla, whose Stock price has experienced ups and downs recently because of his antics.

The trip will take place aboard the future rocket BFR (Big Falcon Rocket).

So, artists, who wants to go to the moon? Whoever the mystery passenger is will be among the first space tourists to fly with a commercial company. Its last rocket, the Falcon Heavy, had its first successful launch almost five years later than planned.

Maezawa didn't immediately say who will be on his guest list for the spaceflight, but in response to a question from a reporter he said he'd consider inviting Musk.

With SpaceX, Amazon.com 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.

Russian and Chinese companies are also working on space tourism plans. He also encouraged Musk to join the mission.

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