Japanese Billionaire Will Fly To The Moon With SpaceX, Elon Musk Says

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The company kicked off its announcement this evening, taking the wraps off its customer: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Our correspondent, Mary MacCarthy, joins us from Los Angeles.

Arguably, the part no one expected came when Maezawa said that he didn't want to experience the flight alone.

"He's a very courageous person to do this", Musk said of the Japanese entrepreneur.

The trip will be made using SpaceX's BFR: its Big Falcon Rocket (or Big F**king Rocket, depending on how much someone's been smoking).

Maezawa is the billionaire behind Zozo, one of Japan's most successful e-commerce websites and quickly becoming one of the world's most popular brands.

He followed that up on Sunday with tweets showing new artist renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that Musk promises will shuttle the passenger to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, using the hashtag #OccupyMars.

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

Maezawa, a 42-year-old art collector and entrepreneur who founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer, could be the first private passenger to make the trip around the moon.

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SpaceX released this dramatic illustration of its BFR spacecraft with the moon. He wants to do a circuit of the Moon, and take six to eight artists with him - be they painters, sculptors, musicians, or architects - and in return for the trip they must create art to inspire humanity.

A flurry of discussion and speculation started on September 13, when SpaceX's Twitter account announced it would release the name of the first private passenger in a special event.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

After giving an update on the BFR's overall architectural changes (for which NASASpaceflight will publish an in-depth article later), Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and Lead Designer at SpaceX, introduced the person who purchased an entire BFR for a flight around the moon.

SpaceX has been hyping the planned Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) Lunar Mission as an epic trip. The rocket dubbed BFR has not been built so any flight presumably is at least several years away.

In 2017, Mr Musk announced that he would be sending two paying passengers on a loop around the Moon - which was to have launched as early as this year.

In February, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy for the first time. Musk will soon announce who that first person is.

The goal, he said during that Mars announcement two years ago, was to "make Mars seem possible". The moon trip would last four to five days, he said.

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