Japanese billionaire will be first SpaceX private passenger

21 September, 2018, 16:01 | Author: Elena Summers
  • Mr Elon Musk with Mr Yusaku Maezawa founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo during an event at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne California on Monday. A former drummer in a punk band Mr Maezawa is tentatively planni

Elon Musk attempted to write the next chapter in his quest to open up space to the masses by announcing on Monday night the first paying tourist that his company, SpaceX, would fly on a trip around the moon.

The trip will take four or five days, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said at the event.

While he might not be a household name in the West, he is famous in his own country as the founder of the Amazon-like shopping portal Zozotown, Japan's largest online retailer.

"He is, I think, the bravest person and most willing to do so", Musk said, referring to Maezawa. He made a splash in the art world in 2017, when he spent $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at a Sotheby's auction, setting a record for an American artist's work at the time. While looking at one of Basquiat's paintings, Maezawa said, he came upon the idea to inspire other top artists to bring a space view down to Earth.

"I wish to create awesome works of art for humankind", Maezawa said. "Maybe we'll both be on it".

Musk said the BFR is still in development and will make several unmanned test launches before it takes on passengers. Musk has loudly touted the potential for the BFR to lead interplanetary colonisation efforts; the Verge wrote that Musk said the updated design is a roughly 387-foot-long (118 metre) two-stage vessel capable of carrying 100 metric tonnes of cargo to a theoretical future Mars colony if refuelled in orbit.

That mission, the Apollo 17, included a crew made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt.

The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 237,685 miles (382,500 kilometers).

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A total of 24 NASA astronauts, all men, traveled to the Moon and back during the Apollo missions during the 1960s and 1970s.

It also aims to build a staffed gateway near the moon during the 2020s. Twelve walked on the lunar surface.

Maezawa's trademark defiant but disarming style may be rooted in his start as a musician, playing drums in indie rock bands. In 2012, he started the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation to support young artists.

In 2016 he sold $250 million worth of stock so he could buy more art. Last year, the site boasted 7.2 million customers.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk outlined a somewhat different mission past year.

That original mission would have used a Falcon Heavy rocket - the most powerful rocket flying today - and a Dragon crew capsule similar to the one NASA astronauts will use to fly to the International Space Station as early as next year. He will be the eighth space tourist in history, and the first to orbit the moon.

As the Post noted, it's been remarkably successful with "34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months" and a "massive backlog of commercial launch contracts".

The trip, which Maezawa calls #DearMoon, is planned for 2023.

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