Japanese billionaire buys all tickets for SpaceX's moon trip
20 September 2018
Elon Musk’s SpaceX mission round the moon carrying paid customers is all sold out. On Monday, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, announced that he has bought all the tickets to moon, which would make him the first private paying customer to ride around the Moon aboard the company's next-generation rocket.
Maezawa, the founder of Japan's largest online clothing retailer site Zozotown, would invite six to eight artists to board the trip since he "bought all the seats." Maezawa, 42, with a real-time net worth of $2.9 billion, suggested the flight would take place as early as 2023.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that Yusaku would be "bringing eight (brave) artists and cultural figures with him on the journey around the moon."
The company considered the would-be trip an "important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space."
Musk said SpaceX will be using the BFR (or the Big Falcon Rocket), which was still under development, for the moon trip. Under the current design, the BFR will be 118 meters long, with a payload capacity of 1,100 cubic meters and 100 metric tonnes.
SpaceX's BFR is set to be a bit more powerful than the Apollo missions' Saturn V rocket. The company released a promotional video in early 2018 showing a simulated BFR crew vehicle landing on the moon, but did not provide any technical information.
The BFR will have seven Raptor engines, each capable of 200 tonnnes of thrust, according to Musk.
Yusaku Maezawa, a relatively unknown person outside the archipelago where he lives, hopes to become more famous with his plan to fly to Earth's biggest satellite.
Elon Musk called Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa "brave" and "an adventurer."
Yusaku Maezawa has always sought to stand out. He skipped college, moved to California to play in a rock band and started his own e-commerce company, Start Today Co. After making money, the 42-year-old started buying millions of dollars worth of artwork. Now he is ready to blast off to the moon on a SpaceX rocket scheduled in 2023.
Maezawa intends to take a combination of painters, musicians, dancers, photographers, film directors, fashion designers and architects on a weeklong lunar loop, where he'll get to watch as they get inspired and create art along the way.
"I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to be the first passenger to the moon," Maezawa said at an announcement at Space Exploration Technologies Corp's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, sitting next to the rocket company's CEO, Elon Musk. "I choose to go to the moon with artists."
Maezawa and Musk declined to say how much the lunar trip would cost. "This is not us choosing him," Musk said. "He chose us. He is a very brave person to do this."
With a net worth of $2.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Maezawa made a splash in the art world in 2017 when he spent $110.5 million on a single Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at a Sotheby's auction, setting a record for an American artist's work at the time.
Maezawa built his art binge on the money he got by selling shares in the company he founded. He has so far sold about 23 billion yen ($205 million) worth of the company's shares.