SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed that Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, will be sent on a trip around the moon on the company’s future massive rocket, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) as early as 2023. Maezawa is the founder of Zozotown, Japan’s largest online clothing retailer.
Maezawa plans to take artists with him to turn the entire ride into an art project called #dearMoon. The BFR, which Musk first described in 2016, is still under development.
“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the Moon! I choose to go to the moon with artists!” Maezawa said to announce his trip at a SpaceX event. “Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon… This is my lifelong dream.”
Musk said Maezawa actually came to SpaceX with the idea to do this flight but he did not mention how much money the billionaire paid for the trip. Musk said he was “not disclosing the amount but he’s paying a very significant amount of money” and that the down payment made was significant enough that it will “have a material effect on paying for cost and development of BFR.”
“It makes a difference,” Musk said. “He puts his money where his mouth is. He’s legit.” Musk also estimated the development cost for BFR will be roughly $5 billion.
Maezawa has a current net worth of $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. The 42-year-old said Monday that he has “bought all the seats” on the BFR. The avid collector had spent $110.5 million on a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat called Untitled last year.
“I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon,” he said. “These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us.”
Musk kick-started Monday’s event by showing images of the rocket, a simulation of its flight, and a video of one of its powerful engines. Musk said once the BFR is completed it will measure 387 feet in height.
SpaceX will conduct several uncrewed test launches of the BFR before the moon trip, which would last four to five days.
In February 2017, SpaceX announced that two passengers would be flying around the moon in the company’s Crew Dragon capsule, launched by its Falcon Heavy rocket. But earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX was considering using BFR instead.