Monday, 15 October, 2018

Japan fashion guru Maezawa lands first SpaceX moon flight

What you need to know about the first tourist that SpaceX is taking around the moon Japanese billionaire to be sent to moon by SpaceX says he'll bring along architects and other artists
Doris Mccormick | 21 September, 2018, 12:01

Elon Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa, billionaire founder and CEO of the Japanese fashion retailer Zozo, would be the first private citizen to fly around the moon.

The mission, now planned for 2023, will take place on SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket.

Like his sharing of art, Maezawa said on Monday that he also wants to share his experience of seeing the moon, explaining why he purchased every seat on the rocket for an undisclosed amount.

"I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon", he said. SpaceX's other major venture thus far, the Falcon Heavy, which is a reusable heavy lift launch vehicle, took almost twice as long to complete than expected.

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

The billionaire chief executive of electric auto maker Tesla Inc, Musk said the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that he promises will shuttle passengers to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, could be conducting its first orbital flights in two to three years.

Maezawa, whose net worth is estimated at $2.9 billion by Forbes, plans to work with the SpaceX team to select his fellow passengers.

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Maezawa did not immediately say who would be on his guest list for the spaceflight, but in response to a question from a reporter he said he would consider inviting Musk.

The latest blueprints mark the final major redesign of the rocket, whose development is expected to cost roughly $5 billion, according to Musk. If all had gone according to schedule, SpaceX would now be gearing up for its first lunar flight, fulfilling its pledge early a year ago to launch a pair of tourists "faster and farther into the solar system than any before them". SpaceX says that only 24 humans have visited the Moon or its orbit in history, with the last one traveling on a 1972 Apollo mission. SpaceX has yet to disclose a launch date for rocket, which remains to be built.

Maezawa, 42, is the chief executive of Start Today Co., which he founded in 1998 as a CD sales business when he was still in his 20s.

"It's not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight", Musk said of the lunar mission.

NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023. He takes the 18th place in the ranking of the richest Japanese. He is an avid art collector, and in 2016 he spent $80 million on paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso, two artists he cited as inspirations during Monday's event.

A year later, he paid more than $110 million auction for another piece by the same artist. The Falcon Heavy rocket launched four year later than planned, while the crew capsule will have been delayed by five years when it sends the first crew of astronauts to the International Space Station in 2019. And last month he tweeted that his new jet's interior is being fashioned by luxury label Hermes.

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