Japan fashion guru Maezawa lands first SpaceX moon flight

Jan Cross
September 19, 2018

Today, Elon Musk and SpaceX - the company that Musk founded in 2002 to "revolutionize space technology" - announced the name of the first private passenger scheduled to fly around the moon on SpaceX's BFR launch vehicle.

The announcement took place at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and it came shortly after SpaceX surprised fans by confirming it had signed its first passenger to the BFR spacecraft.

Musk said the BFR, or the Big Falcon Rocket, was still in development.

Maezawa - described by SpaceX as a "fashion innovator" and "globally recognized art curator" - will be the first human to embark on a lunar mission since 1972, when the last Apollo mission went down.

Maezawa, whose net worth is $2.3 billion, is the founder and CEO of Japan's largest e-commerce company Start Today Co.

Last year, Maezawa dropped $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, the highest ever price paid at auction for a work by an American artist. Maezawa explained his intent to bring along five to eight artists on the trip, the paper added, as part of a project to create art in space named Dear Moon.

Maezawa said he wants his guests to be inspired to create once they return to Earth "to inspire the dreamer in all of us".

"I'm not afraid at all.I trust him, and I trust [the] SpaceX team", Maezawa said.

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SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell gave a more generous time frame for BFR's debut during a TED Talk in April, saying it would launch "within a decade".

"He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster", Musk told the crowd. "This is my lifelong dream".

So, artists, who wants to go to the moon? They will travel on a free return trajectory, carrying the BFR to the moon's far side, the side never seen from Earth, then back to Earth again.

The BFR will stand about 387 feet (118 meters) tall, and both its rocket and spaceship components will be reusable. "This will look really epic in person", Musk said. According to the travel agency SpaceAdventures, seven space tourists have booked tickets aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, but the last of those trips occurred in 2009.

Musk also tweeted his appreciation for NASA, NASA's history and National Security missions.

"It's not 100 percent certain that we succeed in getting this to flight [by 2023]", Musk said. Initially, SpaceX had planned to use Falcon Heavy rockets to launch the crew, but the company has chose to use its newly designed Big Falcon Rocket which is now under construction. "But I wouldn't recommend doing that, because I think the new architecture, the BFR architecture, is the way to go".

But so far this year, his space firm has also kept up a schedule outpaced only by the Chinese government, making 15 launches with its Falcon 9 rocket. Musk reiterated several times that the company's focus right now is on NASA and national security work and that only 5% or so is focused on the BFR.

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