Elon Musk's SpaceX space transportation company on Monday named Japanese billionaire businessman and online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa as the first passenger for a moon voyage aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship.
After a relatively brief period of teasing the announcement, SpaceX took the opportunity on Monday night to announce its very first paying passenger for a trip around the Moon. He spoke to the media at the SpaceX rocket factory in Hawthorne, California.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has found their first big budget tourist to the moon and back in Yasaku Maezawa.
"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", he said.
Yusaku Maezawa, CEO of Zozo, said after being introduced by the SpaceX CEO that he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on the mission.
Maezawa, 42, said he wants his guests to be inspired to create once they return to Earth "to inspire the dreamer in all of us". However, Maezawa is not paying for a simple trip into orbit to hang out for a few days and then return to Earth.
Oh, and he also spends millions of dollars collecting valuable works of art, and is keen to inspire artists with this monumental spaceflight - so he's offering free seats to creators on board SpaceX' BFR rocket.
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He will be the first person to travel to the moon since the United States' Apollo missions ended in 1972. Musk thanked Maezawa for his bravery, and for helping to fund the BFR's development with his purchase.
About one year after that, in February of this year, SpaceX debuted the long-awaited Falcon Heavy, which became the world's most powerful operational launch vehicle.
NASA has also hired SpaceX and Boeing to develop commercial space trips from the US. The launch is scheduled to happen in 2023.
Two more cargo missions are set to follow in 2024 to provide more construction materials, along with two crewed flights, according to earlier reports.
NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023.
During Monday night's announcement, Musk said the whole objective of SpaceX is to "help advance rocket technology to the point where we could potentially become a multi-planet species", and to "extend life beyond Earth and do so as quickly as we can".