Japanese billionaire to be first tourist to Moon: SpaceX

Gwen Vasquez
September 18, 2018

With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels. It's a project he's called "Dear Moon".

"Only 24 humans have been to the Moon in history", SpaceX said on Twitter, adding that no one has visited the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", he said. What wonderful masterpiece would he have created? Musk explained that the BFR will pretty much only be breaking upon reentry, with the actuated fins or flaps helping it slow down along the way.

He has not decided which artists to invite, but will be reaching out to painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, fashion designers and others.

On Monday, Mr Musk unveiled new artist impressions of the BFR and the spaceship which will carry passengers around the Moon.

"I wish to create unbelievable works of art for humankind", Maezawa said.

This lunar mission - a flyby, not a landing - represents "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space", SpaceX said in a tweet.

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During a news conference at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, company founder and CEO Elon Musk introduced Maezawa as the first passenger on the new BFR (sometimes short for "Big Falcon Rocket") rocket-spaceship duo now under construction, and confirmed that Maezawa would ride in a loop around the moon.

According to Musk's presentation [PDF] previous year, the mighty BFR will stand 118 metres tall when erected on its launchpad, and will be able to lift 150 tons into low Earth orbit with the help of a massive central booster, making it the most powerful rocket ever to fly. More details about the launch system will likely be revealed during Musk's announcement this evening. The BFR ship won't be making a stopover on the lunar surface, though.

Musk described it on Monday as an "interplanetary transport system that's capable of getting people anywhere in the solar system".

The BFR name may also change, Musk said.

"Quite a small portion of SpaceX's resources are now spent on BFR". "In order to minimize the development risk and cost, we made a decision to "commonize" the engine between the booster and ship", Musk said, adding that Raptor engines that are optimized for vacuum conditions could be added back in later.

So, artists, who wants to go to the moon?

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