SpaceX Signs Up First Moon Voyage Passenger: A Japanese Billionaire

Yusaku Maezawa has been named as the first SpaceX customer for a trip around the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa reacts during the announcement by Elon Musk to be the first private passenger who will fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR launch vehicle, at the SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory on September 17, 2018 in Hawthorne, California. (DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

SpaceX has introduced the first customer for a trip around the moon: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

During the announcement at the SpaceX factory in Hawthrone, California, Maezawa said that he did not just want to be the first private citizen to circle the moon. He wanted to be part of something even bigger.

“I choose to go to the moon, with artists,” Mr. Maezawa said, echoing President John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1962, reports The New York Times. Maezawa will be traveling with eight artists from multiple disciplines, according to a press release.

Maezawa, 42, is a Japanese entrepreneur and CEO of Start Today. He said he started to think about a moon trip five years ago. During the press conference at SpaceX, he announced a new space-inspired art project, #dearMoon. The project will take Maezawa and the artists on a multi-day flight into space and around the moon. Maezawa might be best known in the United States for his purchase in 2017 of a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for $110 million, reports The Times. 

Maezawa has already put down a “very significant deposit” for a flight abroad SpaceX’s next-generation rocket, the B.F.R., reports SpaceX founder Elon Musk. SpaceX has recently turned its attention to the B.F.R., a more ambitious vehicle than the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rockets. Musk hopes the B.F.R. will one day make regular trips to and from Mars, part of his hope of spreading humanity across the solar system, writes The Times. 

The trip to the moon will not take place until 2023, at the earliest.

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