Japanese billionaire to be first private citizen to make moon flight

Japanese billionaire to be first private citizen to make moon flight

- in Science
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In a live event held Monday at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk said Yusaku Maezawa, the billionaire founder and CEO of Japanese fashion retailer Zozo, would be the first private passenger to fly around the moon on a mission the company has planned for 2023.

“Finally, I can say, I can tell you that I choose to go to the moon,” Maezawa said after joining the SpaceX CEO on stage.

Maezawa, 42, said he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on the historic mission, which he called the “Dear Moon” project. He added that he got the idea after thinking about how seeing the moon up close might affect some of his favorite artists.

Image: Yusaku Maezawa
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks after SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk announced him as the person scheduled to be the first private passenger on a trip around the moon, in Hawthorne, Calif Monday night.Chris Carlson / AP

Maezawa didn’t name the artists he plans to invite on the voyage, which SpaceX has said would take just under six days.

Plans call for Maezawa to make the flight aboard the company’s bullet-shaped Big Falcon Spaceship, or BFS. The ship will launch atop a huge booster named the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR. Both vehicles remain in development.

The announcement reboots a similar plan SpaceX announced in 2017 to fly two private passengers around the moon using the company’s Falcon Heavy rocket and Crew Dragon capsule. The company canceled that flight after deciding not to spend resources certifying Falcon Heavy safe for human flights.

The flight would represent a major test of the 348-foot-tall rocket system that SpaceX hopes to use to send 100 colonists at a time to Mars. To keep operating costs down, both the BFR and BFS will be reusable, and SpaceX plans to phase out its current rocket and capsule lineup altogether.

“We want to have one booster and ship that replaces Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon,” Musk said in 2017. “If we can do that, all those resources can be applied to this system.”

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