A concept image of the BFR
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has named Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the aerospace firm’s first paying passenger for its much-hyped Moon voyage.
Maezawa, founder of clothing giant Zozo, is to travel aboard the company’s BFR – Big Falcon Rocket, or as Musk calls it, Big F***ing Rocket – a “massive” and “reusable” craft that SpaceX hopes will take humans to Mars by 2030, The Daily Telegraph says.
The week-long Moon mission is scheduled for 2023, with tests kicking off within the “two to three years”, the newspaper reports.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 18 September 2018
Announcing the news at a press conference in California last night, Musk did not reveal how much Maezawa is paying for his ticket but said that the Japanese entrepreneur had placed “a significant deposit on the price, which is a significant price”, The Sun reports.
Maezawa has not only purchased a ticket for himself but also booked all eight of the other available places on the flight. He and his guests will become the first lunar travellers since Nasa’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
The fashion tycoon says he intends to take along artists from around the world who will then create artworks based on the experience, to help “inspire the dreamer within each of us”.
In a statement, Maezawa continued: “If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the Moon up close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn? If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written? If they had gone to space, how would the world have looked today?”
Will they be landing on the Moon?
No. Unlike the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SpaceX rocket will not be making a lunar landing.
Instead, Maezawa is to travel on what’s known as the “free return trajectory”, where the rocket slingshots around the Moon before heading back to Earth’s surface, the BBC reports.
Sounding a note of caution, the broadcaster adds that BFR has yet to be built, with Musk admitting that the company is “not 100% certain we can bring this to flight”.