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SpaceX: Japanese billionaire first tourist to fly to moon

21 September 2018

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. According to Musk's statement, the Japanese billionaire Yasaku Maezawa will be the first space tourist to fly with SpaceX BFR.

Musk said the entrepreneur, founder of Japan's largest retail website and one of the country's richest people, will pay "a lot of money" for the trip but declined to disclose the exact amount.

For an undisclosed sum, Maezawa chartered every ticket on the flight, which will take him and up to eight artists on a four- to five-day slingshot journey around the moon as soon as 2023 - the centerpiece to a project dubbed "Dear Moon".

Musk said the BFR is still in development and will make several unmanned test launches before it takes on passengers.

This could be humanity's first lunar visit since 1972, depending on how NASA's latest moon plans shape up.

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. Back in May, he spent $110.5 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting "Untitled".

However, this launch will rely on a rocket that hasn't been built yet, and Mr Musk has said: "It's not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight".

A Vancouver artist thinks his skills make him an excellent candidate to go on a space ship to the moon.

The lawsuit brought by Vernon Unsworth, who helped with the rescue of 12 Thai teenagers from a flooded cave in July, seeks $75,000 in compensation and an injunction against Mr Musk to stop further allegations.

Michael Markowsky, who has painted at the North Pole and drawn in a CF-18 going faster than the speed of sound, is hoping to catch a ride to the moon with Yusaku Maezawa. He did suggest like maybe that I would join on this trip. "That's why I could not pass up the opportunity to see the moon up close".

Asked why the company made further changes, Musk said he "did not like the aesthetics" of the previous version.

SpaceX has launched more than 60 missions to deliver cargo or satellites into orbit over the past eight years - all of them without humans on board.

SpaceX, which is under contract by NASA to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station, recently announced it had to delay that first flight to April of next year. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early past year to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them".

Musk later reversed course, saying the company no longer has plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight. Blue Origin's price has not been revealed.

SpaceX: Japanese billionaire first tourist to fly to moon