Japanese billionaire businessman revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveler

Japanese billionaire businessman revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveler

Japanese billionaire businessman revealed as SpaceX's first Moon traveler

"I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to be the first passenger to the moon", Maezawa said at an announcement at Space Exploration Technologies' headquarters in Hawthorne, California, sitting next to the rocket company's CEO, Elon Musk.

And who does he want with him?

SpaceX put out the teaser via Twitter late Thursday, and Musk also tweeted out the news.

The Japanese billionaire paid an undisclosed amount to ride on the company's new Big Falcon Rocket, which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said will cost $5 billion and could be ready as early as 2023. After making it big, the 42-year-old started dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on artwork.

Yusaku Maezawa (below) is the founder of an online fashion empire called Zozotown.

A man with an artistic bent, Maezawa was part of a band when he founded Start Today in 1998, which was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2007.

The ISS orbits 254 miles (408 km) above Earth.

"Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the Moon!" the Japanese entrepreneur proclaimed. "I choose to invite artists from all around the world on my journey", he said.

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Maezawa says he is not planning to make the lunar voyage alone, but will invite up to eight artists to journey with him. He is calling the project #dearMoon.

Their ventures plan to conduct short suborbital trips during which passengers can briefly experience weightlessness and an expansive view of Earth. "Just staring at the moon, it filled my imagination".

Indeed Musk went out of his way several times to thank NASA for all of their support and that much of what was announced today would nto have been possible without NASA's support. "What wonderful masterpiece would he have created?" he mused. Or Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson or John Lennon? Given SpaceX's propensity for continuous product development as is evidenced by the Falcon 9, BFR is not likely to be any different.

"I love art, so I want to see what artists will collaborate on together and see it directly with my eyes", Maezawa said. Maezawa has not yet chosen the artists who will accompany him and will be looking at top candidates from a wide range of disciplines, including painters, musicians, fashion designer, photographers, filmmakers, and architects.

The BFS is said to be able to hold 100 passengers. Going forward, Musk and Maezawa will figure out details like training, but "nothing's written in stone".

SpaceX says it will identify the adventurous traveler Monday who will become the first person to travel to the moon since 1972 - although the trip won't include an actual landing.

The flight would have used the company's Falcon Heavy rocket and Dragon crew capsule, taking the pair on a loop around the moon before returning home.

The British diver, Vernon Unsworth, sued Musk for defamation on Monday and is seeking more than $75,000. The BFR is expected to stand 118 meters high, taller than a Saturn V. SpaceX has said it hopes this rocket will someday carry people to Mars.

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