SpaceX's 1st traveler is moonstruck Japanese fashion tycoon

Elon Musk and Yusaku Maezawa the self-made tycoon said he had always dreamt of going to the moon. He plans to take eight artists along for the ride

Maezawa will fly on Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s BFR rocket on the trip in 2023, Musk announced Monday.

No guidance has been given on when the moon flight could happen.

The Japanese billionaire is also known as a contemporary art collector and curator with a large collection at his Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo, which features works of various renowned painters like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

"I love art. And I'm very much looking forward to seeing what different artists getting together could bring to life", he said.

Maezawa did not immediately say who would be on his guest list for the spaceflight, but in response to a question from a reporter he said he would consider inviting Musk. "This will look really epic in person", Musk said.

Musk said the money spent on the trip will help to fund the BFR's development, with the goal of one day opening up space travel to the average person. Musk would not say what the trip would cost, but did say that the design of the almost 400-foot tall rocket had evolved recently, with the first flights to orbit coming in two to three years.

That mission, the Apollo 17, included a crew made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt.

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 Japanese entrepreneur has purchased all the seats on SpaceX's first manned flight around the moon, though no date for the trip has been set.

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Could there be more than one billionaire aboard SpaceX's upcoming lunar fly-around mission?

In 2008, Markowsky formally announced that he wanted to paint on the surface of the moon by 2030.

NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023.

Branson's Virgin Galactic has sold tickets for about $250,000, which is more than the median home price in the United States.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said last week that there was "no chance" that Musk's conduct will impact SpaceX's ability to win contracts, and that there's been "no impact at all" on the level of confidence in him on the part of the closely held company's backers. He hasn't said who they might be or how much he is paying for the trip.

In the past few months, Musk has lashed out at analysts during an earnings call for Tesla, his electric vehicle company, for asking "boring, bonehead questions".

SpaceX said it has signed the first private moon traveler, with some changes to its original game plan. (On Monday, the diver sued him for defamation.) Then he vowed to take Tesla private, saying that the "funding was secured", only to reverse himself shortly afterward. But as he rode the train for an hour and a half every morning from his home in Japan's Chiba prefecture, he told the Times in London he started noticing how all the people headed to their jobs appeared to be "tired and unhappy".

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