SpaceX unveils Japanese billionaire as first ever private tourist for lunar mission

SpaceX unveils Japanese billionaire as first ever private tourist for lunar mission

The rocket dubbed BFR has not been built so any flight is several years away.

The announcement was made at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Maezawa hasn't selected which artists will join him on the four to five-day journey, which will send his craft around the Moon and back to Earth.

Elon Musk looked enthusiastic and excited at the event.

This could be humanity's first lunar visit since 1972, depending on how NASA's latest moon plans shape up.

SpaceX announced in February 2017 that two people had signed up for a weeklong trek around the moon, which the company aimed to launch before the end of 2018.

Musk introduced Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the global custom-fit clothing company Zozo and an avid art collector, as the one who is investing in the spaceship project in order to take the trip, possibly in 2023.

An unconventional entrepreneur, Maezawa, the chief executive of Start Today Co. that runs the shopping site, has said "I dislike competing with others". The trip to the moon will be on the SpaceX rocket, called a Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) which might not be ready for at least five years.

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The company considered the would-be trip an "important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space".

It hasn't been revealed how much Maezawa has paid for the trip, although it is clear that the billionaire approached SpaceX with the idea first. Those missions will depend on SpaceX's proven Falcon rockets.

Musk further said that this mission isn't a walk in the park and is unsafe.

The billionaire has reportedly already placed a large deposit on the flight which is helping SpaceX in the development of the BFR launch platform that will actually take the passengers around the Moon.

Maezawa told the audience he plans to invite painters, musicians, photographers and filmmakers to join him on the trip around the moon - a voyage Musk said will take roughly five days.

Musk, who is well-known for issuing overly ambitious schedules, said during a Q&A in March that he hoped to begin testing the spaceship portion of the BFR sometime in 2019.

Earlier in the day, Musk was sued for defamation by the British driver he had accused of being a "child rapist" and pedophile via tweets and emails to media.

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