Japan's fashion designer lands first SpaceX voyage to the moon

Gwen Vasquez
September 20, 2018

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced Monday night that entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa would be the first private person to fly aboard its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) launch vehicle.

"Their masterpieces will inspire all the dreamers that are asleep in us", he said.

Importantly, SpaceX didn't actually reveal who the passenger was.

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.

It is the excitement of the space programme, he says, that gets him up in the morning.

Neither Maezawa nor Musk would disclose the price of the flight, but Musk said that Maezawa - who had been one of the two customers for SpaceX's earlier plans for a circumlunar flight on a Dragon announced almost 18 months ago, but since shelved - had already made a down payment.

In 2016, Musk predicted that one of his Dragon crew capsules would land on Mars this year - although that particular project was abandoned.

NASA is itself aiming to send astronauts into orbit beyond the moon by 2022, fifty-years after the Apollo 8 mission became the first to send humans beyond low earth orbit.

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SpaceX is expected to name the first private passenger to fly around the moon at an event Monday evening.

SpaceX/TwitterSpaceX's rendering of a Big Falcon Rocket spaceship carrying a passenger around the moon. "Some of Earth's greatest talents will board a spacecraft and be inspired in a way they have never been before", Maezawa's new #dearMoon website reads.

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. So far only Caucasian male Americans have left the Earth's orbit, all 24 of them NASA astronauts during the Apollo era in the 1960s and 1970s.

"He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster", Musk said on Monday.

"He has chosen us", said the mercurial founder of SpaceX, also boss of the vehicle manufacturer Tesla, whose Stock price has experienced ups and downs recently because of his antics. The company now has the Falcon and Falcon Heavy rockets.

An initial series of "hopper" test flights of the BFR spaceship are still planned to take place next year at SpaceX's South Texas launch site under development. Russian Federation halted its space-tourism program in 2010, after the USA retired its space shuttle program, leaving fewer seats available to get working astronauts into orbit.

Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Motors, has drawn attention in recent months over his erratic behavior.

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