Japanese billionaire will be first SpaceX private passenger

Kelley Robertson
September 22, 2018

A former drummer in a punk band, Maezawa is tentatively planning to make his moon flight in 2023 aboard SpaceX's forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights. Alongside, he also revealed plans to bring six to eight others, which he says will include painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, and architects. 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.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at a conference outside Washington earlier Monday that she hoped the spaceship would be making short test flights next year. "Maybe we'll both be on it".

Astronauts last visited the moon during NASA's Apollo program. "The artwork that results from this weeklong "#dearMoon" mission "will inspire the dreamer inside all of us", said Maezawa, who is an avid art collector.

Maezawa made his fortune by building up Start Today, an e-commerce business that includes a popular online clothing site in Japan.

If you didn't make the cut as one of the eight artists chosen to ride in SpaceX's 2023 mission around the moon, you might be in luck.

'By the way, if you should hear from me please say yes and accept my invitation, ' he said. He made a splash in the art world in 2017, when he spent $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at a Sotheby's auction, setting a record for an American artist's work at the time.

If asked, Markowsky would tell Maezawa to pick him to go to the moon because he's been training to create art in unusual environments for years.

"If I'm going to go to space, I'd rather go as far as I can", he said.

No guidance has been given on when the moon flight could happen. "I don't know if they have the skills to translate that experience in a way that is digestible for the majority of people".

Once again, Musk's big news came in the face of nagging questions and tumult - this time generated largely by his own behavior.

The latest blueprints mark the final major redesign of the rocket, whose development is expected to cost roughly $5 billion, according to Musk.

The mission will not involve a lunar landing.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20mn to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

The company noted that the trip will last about a week. He is the first to book a trip as a private passenger with the commercial space company for a voyage that hasn't been attempted since NASA's Apollo missions ended in 1972.

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

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