Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be 1st SpaceX private passenger to circle the moon

LOS ANGELES -- SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the first private passenger to fly on a trip around the moon will be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Maezawa said he wants to bring 6-8 artists with him on the Hawthorne-based company's Big Falcon Rocket. He plans to speak with artists from various fields include painting, sculpture, music, film and fashion about going on the trip.

"Ever since I was a kid, I loved the moon," Maezawa said during a press conference at company headquarters in Hawthorne.

He asked people to imagine what artists such as Picasso or John Lennon would have produced if they had the chance to see the moon up close.

Maezawa has established a website dearmoon to outline his plans.

The amount of money Maezawa is paying for the 2023 trip was not disclosed. Musk described it as a significant amount of money that is helping to pay for the BFR program.

Musk said the overall BFR system - a reusable rocket used for more than just this mission - could cost around $5 billion. Musk said the BFR is designed to land on any surface in the solar system.

Maezawa made his fortune in online fashion retailing and has also established a reputation as a collector of high-end art and a supporter of art-related causes.

Before getting into fashion, he was a drummer in a rock band and at age 18 he moved to Southern California to skateboard, staying for about a year before returning to Japan and getting into the business side of the music industry.

Last year, Musk had discussed the idea of having someone land on the moon and return, but that has now changed to a loop around the moon that is expected to take about 4-5 days.
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