Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be SpaceX’s first Moon tourist

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discusses the latest version of his vision for the BFR rocket.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks at a press event in California to announce his solo rocket trip. "Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon". Musk praised Maezawa's bravery for seeking to be the first passenger on the trip.

Maezawa said he wants his guests to be inspired to create once they return to Earth "to inspire the dreamer in all of us". He added: "I choose to go to the Moon. with artists!"

Maezawa said: "I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the moon".

After that, the BFR will move on to larger scale tests - with Mr. Musk noting that the entire BFR system will be tested in an uncrewed configuration before Maezawa and his fellow passengers embark on their voyage around the moon.

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.

"If you hear from me, please say yes", he pleaded. Only 12 have set foot on the moon.

Musk said two people who know each other approached the company about a week-long flight to the moon and back. BFR, in contrast, will have room for many more people. The company will use the extra space to store lots of food, water, fuel and spare parts, in case something goes wrong during the flight.

The world's federal space agencies have always mandated a background in some kind of scientific field for minimum consideration in the astronaut corps - excluding artists of all kinds whose fields lay outside engineering and science.

But given that SpaceX nearly always meets ot exceeds its plans - even if their target date is off - the intent is clearly focused on making this mission happen.

SpaceX reminded us only 24 humans have been to the moon and no one has visited since NASA's final 1972 Apollo mission.

Video SpaceX today named its first paying passenger it will fly around the Moon and back to Earth - and it's Japanese biz baron Yusaku Maezawa. A 90-minute flight costs US$250,000. It was later confirmed the company would remain public.

Before revealing Maezawa's mission to the Moon, Musk gave a heartfelt introduction as to why SpaceX exists in the first place.

SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-priced reusable Falcon 9 rockets. "This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them".

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station. Maezawa will spend about a week on the journey, according to SpaceX, which says the trip will come within up to 125 miles of the Moon's surface before turning around and returning to Earth.

"It makes a difference", Musk said.

While Tesla has been plagued by production problems, SpaceX, which is also led by president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell, has been far more stable, churning out 34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months.