Japanese billionaire to invite artists to fly on SpaceX moon mission

Japanese billionaire to invite artists to fly on SpaceX moon mission

Elon Musk-founded SpaceX has announced that the company's first private passenger to the Moon will be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Maezawa, 42, is the founder and CEO of Zozo, the largest online fashion retailer in Japan.

Maezawa said he planned to pick "artists I love" to go along, but gave no further specifics.

Maezawa said he plans to invite six to eight artists to go on the trip with him.

Musk introduced Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the worldwide custom-fit clothing company Zozo and an avid art collector, as the one who is investing in the spaceship project in order to take the trip, possibly in 2023. "No one has visited since the last Apollo mission in 1972". Now, he's also the first private citizen to go into deep space. The company's upcoming reusable rocket is slated to cost $5 billion to develop over the coming years. Last year, he said two paying tourists would circle the Moon in 2018, but those plans that did not materialize.

In front of a packed house at the company's headquarters Monday, Musk introduced his newest partner in space exploration.

Maezawa revealed that he'd purchased all seats on the first crewed flight of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket - a new launch system that's being created to colonize Mars.

The company has revealed little else about the trip, and it's anyone's guess when it might actually happen.

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However, this launch will rely on a rocket that has not been built yet, and Mr Musk has said: "It's not 100% certain we can bring this to flight".

The first BFR is now being built in a purpose-built warehouse in Florida.

In an interview in March, Musk said the ship was now being built, adding "I think we'll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year".

SpaceX added that it was "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space".

"You could send people back to the Moon" on the Falcon Heavy rocket, Musk said at the time.

The spaceship that Maezawa and his team of artists will be boarding will start making short test flights next year. Musk said, however, that the down payment alone was "significant". Maezawa also attended the maiden launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.

The 106 metre (347 feet) long ship was first announced past year, and Musk said the ship will contain up to 40 cabins which will have enough space for 100 people.

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