Science & Technology

First Tourist To The Moon On Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa

| September 18 , 2018 , 12:31 IST

Although tourism trips to outer space and the moon have been in the talks for a while, due to expenses involved and the intense travel, few have taken up the option.

Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa on Tuesday has been confirmed as the first man to fly as a tourist on Elon Musk-founded space company SpaceX, and he plans to bring 6-8 artists along on the trip around the moon, which may take place as early as in 2023.

SpaceX confirmed that Maezawa would be the first private passenger to fly around the moon, and tweeted, "The first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard BFR is fashion innovator and globally recognized art curator Yusaku Maezawa."

The 42-year-old Maezawa is chief executive of Japan's largest fashion mall and is the 18th richest person in Japan worth $3 billion. He will be the first lunar traveller since 1972, and also the first ever Asian to leave the Earth's orbit. American businessman Dennis Tito was the first space tourist in 2001, paying $20 million, but he travelled on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon," Maezawa said at SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California, on Monday.

"This is my lifelong dream."

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The price of Maezawa's ticket has not been revealed, however, the 6-8 artists he plans to take along with him will get to travel for free.

"I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon," Maezawa said.

"They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us."

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Elon Musk has cautioned the travellers about the trip, and said, "This is dangerous, to be clear. This is no walk in the park," adding that "When you are pushing the frontier, it is not a sure thing. There is a chance something could go wrong."

The flight will take place aboard a Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which was first announced in 2016 as the most powerful rocket in history estimated to cost $5 billion to build, but may take at least 5 years to be ready for human flight. Musk has earlier said that he wants the BFR to be capable of holding 100 people and could one day be used to colonise Moon and Mars.

Last year, Musk had said that 2 paying tourists would circle the moon in 2018, but the plans did not materialise.