Japanese Billionaire Books First Moonshot Aboard SpaceX's 'Big Falcon Rocket'

Cristina Cross
September 21, 2018

"I thought, what if Basquiat had gone to space and had seen the moon up close or saw the earth in full view?" he said.

Musk said that it was originally Maezawa's idea to do this trip.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself, that would be a little lonely", he said.

"Luckily, we still have some time before 2023, so I hope to work very closely with the SpaceX team and to reach out to each artist personally", Maezawa said. "After receiving some encouragement from Maezawa, Musk said he will possibly consider it".

"Maybe we'll both be on it", Elon Musk said after Maezawa's invitation. Musk would not say what the trip would cost, but did say that the design of the almost 400-foot tall rocket had evolved recently, with the first flights to orbit coming in two to three years.

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

The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 237,685 miles (382,500 kilometers). The agency sent 24 astronauts to the moon during the Apollo era, with the last of these missions taking place in 1972. After launch, the BFR will make several course corrections and complete one loop around the moon before returning to Earth, where it will land upright, in a maneuver SpaceX has pioneered with its Falcon 9 rockets.

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The space agency is planning its own lunar flyby with a crew around 2023. The space agency also aims to build a staffed gateway near the moon during the 2020s. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early past year to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them". That same year, Maezawa's band, Switch Style, signed with the label BMG Japan. In 2012, he started the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation to support young artists. He had set the previous auction record for a Basquiat, in 2016, when he paid $57.3 million.

Elon Musk of SpaceX, left, and Yusaku Maezawa.

Two of Musk's fellow billionaires - Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group's Richard Branson - also want to make a business out of space tourism.

"It's unsafe to be clear", Musk said.

The mission will use SpaceX's BFR spacecraft - short for Big Falcon Rocket - essentially a massive booster rocket with a detachable spaceship attached.

Musk's ultimate goal is to colonize Mars. (On Monday, the diver sued him for defamation.) Then he vowed to take Tesla private, saying that the "funding was secured", only to reverse himself shortly afterward. But as he rode the train for an hour and a half every morning from his home in Japan's Chiba prefecture, he told the Times in London he started noticing how all the people headed to their jobs appeared to be "tired and unhappy".

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