SpaceX To Name Mystery Moon Traveler

Cristina Cross
September 18, 2018

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks today after SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk announced him as the person who would be the first private passenger on a trip around the moon in Hawthorne, Calif.

Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.

Maezawa - described by SpaceX as a "fashion innovator" and "globally recognized art curator" - will be the first human to embark on a lunar mission since 1972, when the last Apollo mission went down. "That's the intention of BFR, is to make people excited about the future", he said.

During the BFR flight, Maezawa - and certainly some of his other passengers - will become the first non-Americans to travel to the moon.

In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalizing details about the trip and the passenger's identity, but left major questions unanswered. The company has been eyeing space tourism, previously stating that it had received sizable deposits from a couple of unnamed individuals keen on traveling into space.

SpaceX did not disclose how much Maezawa will pay for the voyage other than that the amount is "significant", and that he has, so far, made a down payment. SpaceX said the BFR "will be the most powerful rocket in history", but it is still in the design phase.

"It's not 100 percent certain that we succeed in getting this to flight", he said of BFR.

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But Musk threw a curve ball during a Falcon Heavy press conference earlier this year when he told reporters that, for the time being, SpaceX had no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.

When asked about the paid-for circumlunar navigation flight, Mr. Musk stated that the flight would be switching to BFR, would generally follow the same flight profile (free return trajectory), and would take place No Earlier Than 2019.

He had said that the trip would happen this year and would not involve a landing, but rather a long loop around the moon.

Looping a human around the moon is just the first stage of a plan that is targeted on the moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond.

That would fulfill Elon Musk's goal of making humanity a multiplanetary species.

The BFR name may also change, Musk said. "I don't think it's more than 10 [billion dollars], and I don't think it's less than two" billion dollars, he said.

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