Japan billionaire is SpaceX's first Moon flight customer

Elon Musk chief executive officer for Space Exploration Technologies Corp

Elon Musk chief executive officer for Space Exploration Technologies Corp

While he might not be a household name in the West, he is famous in his own country as the founder of the Amazon-like shopping portal Zozotown, Japan's largest online retailer.

Maezawa, 42, said he plans to invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people to join him on board the SpaceX rocket "to inspire the dreamer in all of us".

Last week, SpaceX posted on Twitter that it "has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard our (Big Falcon Rocket) - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling into space".

"One day, when I was staring at his painting, I thought, what if Basquiat had gone to space, and had seen the moon up close, or saw Earth in full view".

The trip to the Moon is expected to last a week and would carry the first non-American human beyond the Earth's orbit. He would fly on a rocket made by the SpaceX company. Back in May, he spent $110.5 million for Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 painting "Untitled".

Maezawa's other hobby is amassing valuable works of modern art and previous year, he announced the acquisition of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece worth $110.5mn.

SpaceX's passenger will be the first person to take a space flight toward the moon who did not train through a formal program like NASA. He added: "I choose to go to the Moon. with artists!"

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.

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"If you hear from me, please say yes", the Japanese tycoon pleaded.

This isn't the first time Musk has vowed to send tourists around the Moon.

"I know that sounds insane, and we don't usually meet our time lines, but I wanted you to know at least order of magnitude, that's what we're thinking", Shotwell said.

Asked why the company made further changes, Musk said he "did not like the aesthetics" of the previous version.

He had said that the trip would happen this year and would not involve a landing, but rather a long loop around the moon.

NASA has also hired SpaceX and Boeing to develop commercial space trips from the US.

In 2017, Mr Musk announced that he would be sending two paying passengers on a loop around the Moon - which was to have launched as early as this year. Bezos' Blue Origin has been tight-lipped about the price of its tickets, but Reuters reported in July that they could cost in the $200,000 range. Now, perhaps it's about the next stage in human spaceflight-and maybe, the beauty.

The era of space tourism began in 2001, when California businessman Dennis Tito paid for a journey on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station.

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