Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become moon space tourist

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become moon space tourist

Maezawa, a 42-year-old art collector and entrepreneur who founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer, could be the first private passenger to make the trip around the moon. When you're pushing the frontier, it's not a sure thing.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Mr Maezawa would fly to the moon aboard a new rocket called the BFR, which was still in development. There's some chance that something could go wrong.

Musk didn't say how much money was involved in booking the artists' adventure, although he said that it was substantial.

The flight will only launch after the completion of BFR hopper tests, which Mr. Musk confirmed are still targeted to begin next year. The BFR has been described as the most powerful rocket in history. Musk will soon announce who that first person is.

"Lasting about a week, the journey will come as close as 125 miles to the Moon's surface", SpaceX tweeted, "before completing lunar transit and returning back to Earth".

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

Falcon Heavy's maiden flight was shown as part of SpaceX's evolution towards BFR. The spacecraft is meant to buzz around the moon without landing.

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Read everything we know about the BFR and its spaceship design here.

Musk has said he wants the BFR's vessel to be able to hold around 100 people, and that the launch system could one day be used to colonize the Moon and Mars in order to make humans a "multi-planetary" species.

SpaceX is already making headlines around the world for its efforts to make spaceflight more affordable for organizations like NASA as well as private companies, but today the company will announce something truly revolutionary.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic are also battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, but neither have so far announced pkans as ambitious as SpaceX. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

Russian and Chinese companies are also working on space tourism plans.

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

BFR will inevitably borrow heavily from almost a decade of designing, building, testing, launching, and upgrading 60+ Falcon 9 and Heavy rockets, all successes and failures included. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early previous year to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them".

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