Billionaire Fashion Retailer Yusaku Maezawa to Become SpaceX’s First Moon Tourist

Federico Mansilla
Setiembre 21, 2018

Elon Musk's company SpaceX has unveiled the first private passenger it plans to fly around the Moon.

The US company, SpaceX, has said Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire is its first customer.

Maezawa is the founder of Japan's largest retail website and he says he doesn't want to take this fantastic trip alone.

Maezawa surprised people by saying he wanted to take five to eight artists with him to the moon.

However, Musk did say that Maezawa brought the idea to him and that the Japanese billionaire's money will help fund development of Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, which the company plans to use for the lunar flight - and eventually, for a flight to Mars.

Last year, Musk said the BFR's admittedly "ambitious" goal was to make a test flight to Mars in 2022, followed by a crewed flight to the Red Planet in 2024.

"I thought, what if Basquiat had gone to space and had seen the moon up close or saw the earth in full view?" he said.

The mission, which is now planned for 2023, will mark the first visit to the Moon by humans since NASA's Apollo 17 landing in 1972.

Mr Maezawa's identity was revealed at an event on Monday evening at the company's headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.

Mr Maezawa made headlines past year after paying $110.5m for a painting by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at an auction in NY.

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Mr Maezawa, 42, is one of Japan's most colourful executives and is a regular fixture in the country's gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", said Maezawa according to CNBC.

"These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us", he opined.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself, that would be a little lonely", he said.

"As far as me going, I'm not sure", Musk responded.

"I know that sounds insane, and we don't usually meet our time lines, but I wanted you to know at least order of magnitude, that's what we're thinking", Shotwell said. Now, perhaps it's about the next stage in human spaceflight-and maybe, the beauty.

The price tag for Maezawa's ticket isn't clear and SpaceX did not make that information public.

The era of space tourism began in 2001, when California businessman Dennis Tito paid for a journey on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station.

With SpaceX, founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, Maezawa will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behavior and the struggles of his Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver.

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