Science

SpaceX will take a Japanese billionaire on a trip around the Moon

SpaceX will take a Japanese billionaire on a trip around the Moon”

Elon Musk speaks near a Falcon 9 rocket during his announcement that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private passenger who will fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR.

Maezawa, the founder of Japan's largest online fashion retailer (Zozotown), announced that he has purchased the entire SpaceX BFR (Big F***ing Rocket) flight and that he's turning it into a project called #dearMoon.

SpaceX's moonshot mission is now poised for 2023 - carrying Maezawa and six to eight other artists aboard what could be SpaceX's largest and most powerful spacecraft yet - the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).

Al Jazeera's Victoria Gatenby reports.

"He puts his money where his mouth is", Musk said, describing the amount as "non-trivial".

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon", Maezawa told the audience packed into a SpaceX hangar.

Musk said Maezawa had outlaid a significant deposit and would have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR, which he estimated at about $5 billion.

Maezawa made his fortune by building up Start Today, an e-commerce business that includes a popular online clothing site in Japan.

Maezawa, 42, is the chief executive of Start Today Co., which he founded in 1998 as a CD sales business when he was still in his 20s.

In a country known for its staid corporate culture, the businessman is one of a small group of mould-breaking billionaires widely recognized by the general public.

While the BFR (a whopping 387 feet tall) can fit 100 people, according to Space.com, this first trip will carry only a skeleton crew-leaving room for extra fuel, food, water, and spare parts, just in case anything goes wrong. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000. The trip was organized by the Virginia-based company Space Adventures, which has since sent several more paying customers on spaceflights.

"As far as me going, I'm not sure", Musk responded.

Maezawa has already shown his penchant for fast machines, splashing out on vehicles including the Bugatti Chiron sports auto and the Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet SUV.

Maezawa said the trip to the moon offered incredible artistic possibilities. During this same period, Maezawa's new band, Switch Style, signed a record contract with BMG Japan and subsequently produced three albums.

"I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us", said Maezawa.

SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-priced reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars' worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Shotwell also said the full rocket could reach orbit for the first time in 2020 and possibly deliver cargo to the Moon or Mars in 2022.



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