Friday, 19 October, 2018

SpaceX: Japanese billionaire first tourist to fly to moon

Elon Musk SpaceX BFR announcement What you need to know about the first tourist that SpaceX is taking around the moon
Oscar Goodwin | 21 September, 2018, 16:00

Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, announced on Tuesday that Japanese online fashion tycoon, Yusaku Maezawa, will be the Big Falcon Rocket's first private passenger, according to the BBC. Alongside, he also revealed plans to bring six to eight others, which he says will include painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, and architects.

The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 237,685 miles (382,500 kilometres ). "So, I choose to go to the moon with artists", he said. He paid $110.5 million for Basquiat's 1982 painting of a graffiti-like black and blue rendition of a human skull, a record price for an American artist, at a Sotheby's auction past year. Maezawa says he has often wondered what Basquiat might have drawn if he had traveled into space.

"I wish to create fantastic works of art for humankind", he said.

Musk said that it was originally Maezawa's idea to do this trip. "Maybe we'll both be on it".

Mr Musk said Mr Maezawa had outlaid a significant deposit and would have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR, which he estimated at US$5 billion. Musk has loudly touted the potential for the BFR to lead interplanetary colonisation efforts; the Verge wrote that Musk said the updated design is a roughly 387-foot-long (118 metre) two-stage vessel capable of carrying 100 metric tonnes of cargo to a theoretical future Mars colony if refuelled in orbit.

On its website, SpaceX is touting the "first passenger on lunar BFR mission", implying there will be more. 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 price tag for Maezawa's ticket isn't clear and SpaceX did not make that information public.

Astronauts last visited the moon during NASA's Apollo program. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early previous year to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them".

Musk has put NASA and the Air Force - which collaborates with the space agency in myriad ways - in the awkward position of having to respond to controversial conduct recently.

In 2016 he sold $250 million worth of stock so he could buy more art.

The amount Mr Maezawa is paying for the trip was not disclosed, but he told Reuters the total sum was "much higher" than the cost of a Basquiat painting.

As the Post noted, it's been remarkably successful with "34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months" and a "massive backlog of commercial launch contracts".

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behavior and the struggles of his Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver.

Two high-level executives announced departures from Tesla, and the diver sued Musk on Monday.

Musk and SpaceX engineers built a small submarine and shipped it to Thailand to help with the rescue.

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