Japanese businessman to become first private moon tourist

Saturday, 22 Sep, 2018

Japanese retail figurehead and art collector Yusaku Maezawa today (18 September) announced his intention to fly around the moon on the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).

Mr Maezawa then explained he had hired the entire shuttle, not just one seat, adding that he wanted to be joined by several artists. Watch the full announcement in the video player below.

"If you should hear from me, please say yes and accept my invitation", Maezawa said.

Maezawa said he plans to invite six to eight artists to go on the trip with him. The BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is being developed in a SpaceX facility at the Port of Los Angeles. SpaceX is still working to built the 387-foot Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) it plans to use for its moon flight.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20 million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

SpaceX announced it had reached an agreement to launch the tourist into space last Friday via Twitter.

Musk dropped a huge hint about the identity of the traveller when fans asked him who would be taking part in the mission.

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.

In 2017, Mr Musk announced that he would be sending two paying passengers on a loop around the Moon - which was to have launched as early as this year.

The BFR is essentially a 48m long spaceship attached to the top of a reusable 36m rocket booster.

The latest blueprints mark the final major redesign of the rocket, whose development is expected to cost roughly $5 billion, according to Musk.

SpaceX/YouTube Musk released the proposed trajectory of the first lunar SpaceX flight with a paying customer, which could take place as early as 2023.

About one year after that, in February of this year, SpaceX debuted the long-awaited Falcon Heavy, which became the world's most powerful operational launch vehicle.

SpaceX said the journey would be "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space".

Founded by billionaire Elon Musk and conceived as a company with long-term ambitions such as bringing humans to Mars, SpaceX will ferry four NASA astronauts to space in 2019 with its Crew Dragon or Dragon 2 spacecraft.