Japanese billionaire Yusaka Maezawa has signed with SpaceX to fly around the moon on the Company’s next generation rocket, according to an announcement from Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Monday.
Maezawa will launch aboard a Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), a behemoth rocket that SpaceX is developing and the flagship for Musk’s vision of creating a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars.
"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. It's always there and continues to inspire humanity," said Maezawa, one of the richest people in Japan, who made his fortune as the founder of online retailers Start Today and Zozotown.
SpaceX announced in February 2017 that two passengers would be flying around the moon in the Company's Crew Dragon capsule, launched by its Falcon Heavy rocket. But earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX was considering using BFR instead and on Monday confirmed that Maezawa is "the same person" who was announced before, just with a larger group now onboard.
BFR is a massive, 35-story tall rocket designed to launch and land like SpaceX's Falcon 9, but also carrying dozens of people on board instead of just satellites. Musk confirmed BFR's "design has been changed," after receiving questions about new renders of the rocket posted online.
He declined to reveal the amount Maezawa paid for the mission, saying he was "not disclosing the amount but he's paying a very significant amount of money."
"I choose to go to the moon with artists," Maezawa added. "I would like to invite 6 to 8 artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon." He has yet to decide which artists to bring yet.
The trip is expected to launch in 2023.