Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become first moon space tourist

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to become first moon space tourist

"I would like to thank Elon Musk and SpaceX for creating the opportunity to go around the moon in their BFR", Maezawa wrote on his Instagram account.

The businessman will not land on the moon itself, but will travel on what is known as a "free return trajectory", in a loop of sorts.

"He's paying a very significant amount of money", Musk said.

He founded the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo in 2012 and bought two works by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the last two years for a total of around $170 million.

Bottom line: Elon Musk and SpaceX headquarters plan to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa - with a group of artists - on a loop around the moon and back to Earth in 2023.

"Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the Moon!" the Japanese entrepreneur proclaimed. And he also allowed him to take on his trip eight yet unnamed "artists and cultural figures".

Between six and eight artists will join the expedition called Dear Moon, which is now planned for 2023.

The mission is slated to launch as soon as 2023.

"This is going to be risky". Instead, he will get to travel to the moon on a weeklong trip aboard a BFR, which will circle the natural satellite (talk about an Instagrammable moment) before heading back to terra firma. The original plan called for two paying passengers to fly around the moon this year, using a Falcon Heavy rocket and a Dragon crew capsule.

The BFR is SpaceX's upcoming two-stage reusable spaceship system that will weigh 9.7 million pounds and be capable of taking a 330,000 pound payload to Mars and lower-Earth orbit (LEO), officials say.

It's spaceship, which will ride atop a rocket booster, is expected to carry up to 100 people and 150 tons of supplies to the Martian surface.

Musk has not revealed how much his "Lunar BFR Mission" will cost in the long run, but Maezawa surely won't have a hard time footing the bill.

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?"

But Musk said "this is the final iteration in terms of broad architectural design".

This is a developing story.

Dana Varinsky contributed reporting to this post.

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