Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be Space Xs first moon traveller

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Yusaku Maezawa has been announced as the first person to fly around the moon as part of Elon Musk's SpaceX project.

The Big Falcon Rocket, which will take Maezawa to space-and which Musk says will allow his company to build a base on the moon, colonize Mars, and enable a must faster commercial travel on Earth-has not yet been built.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", the business tycoon said in a news conference held Monday evening at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

Maezawa, 42, said he plans to invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people to join him on board the SpaceX rocket "to inspire the dreamer in all of us".

He added that he anticipates SpaceX's Starlink satellite system to be operational by then, which he said should aid in the broadcast, particularly when the moon is between the Earth and the spaceship.

Maezawa was one of the two people who had paid a deposit to become the first to fly around the moon, Musk said Monday, noting that SpaceX's ambitious exploration plans required the company "to seek every possible means for funding" the development of BFR.

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

Maezawa didn't immediately say who will be on his guest list for the spaceflight, but in response to a question from a reporter he said he'd consider inviting Musk.

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

The mission will not actually land on the moon, the BBC reported. On his website, he has a collaged image of an astronaut with a paint brush, palette and easel painting a lunar landscape on the moon.

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The price tag for Maezawa's ticket isn't clear and SpaceX did not make that information public.

Sixteen successful missions for SpaceX this year is a bright spot in an otherwise tumultuous few months for Musk, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of electric-car maker Tesla Inc.

NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023. Back in May, he spent $110.5 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting "Untitled".

Musk said, "It makes a difference".

Forbes ranks Maezawa as the 18th richest person in Japan.

"It's not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight", Musk said of the lunar mission. He had set the previous auction record for a Basquiat, in 2016, when he paid $57.3 million.

She said, "They've shown us some of BFR already".

The tourism announcement comes as the company is racing to meet a tight deadline to start flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station aboard its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Musk and SpaceX engineers built a small submarine and shipped it to Thailand to help with the rescue.

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