Japanese businessman to become first private moon tourist

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The first private passenger to travel around the moon has been named by Elon Musk's space transportation company, SpaceX. Maezawa, who founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer Zozotown, told media, after being introduced by SpaceX boss Elon Musk at the company's headquarters in California.

Musk said Maezawa had outlaid a significant deposit and would have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR, which he estimated at about $5 billion. "Just staring at the moon filled my imagination".

I could not pass up this opportunity to see the moon up close and at the same time I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself.

The mission which is set for 2023 will see Maezawa and "8 (brave) artists and cultural figures with him on the journey around the moon" according to Musk.

Now, the billionaire plans to use his trip around the moon to inspire new "masterpieces", created by the artists he chooses to accompany him. Moreover, none of them will have to pay anything for the trip as the Japanese executive has already brought all the seats on BFR.

Today SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell was quoted as saying that the company had its "eyes on the prize" for an initial BFR flight to Mars in 2024, although she acknowledged that SpaceX's timelines often slip to the right.

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.

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Only 24 humans have visited the Moon - all of them Americans; although, not all of these individuals landed.

SpaceX calls the rocket the BFR, which officially stand for Big Falcon Rocket, though the F in the name is more commonly thought to stand for something else. The trip will be free for the artists he invites along, Maezawa added.

NASA has also hired SpaceX and Boeing to develop commercial space trips from the US. It is scheduled for an unmanned demonstration launch in November.

The first test flight with NASA astronauts on board is planned for next spring.

Short-hop testing of the BFR's second stage, nicknamed the Big Falcon Spaceship or BFS, could begin as early as next year.

On its website, SpaceX is touting the "first passenger on lunar BFR mission", implying there will be more.

The agency eventually plans to build a small space station in orbit around the moon that will serve as a technology testbed and jumping off point for descents to the lunar surface and, eventually, on to Mars.

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