Space X to announce who will fly around the moon

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Space X to announce who will fly around the moon

"This is my lifelong dream".

Mr Musk said the entrepreneur, founder of Japan's largest retail website and one the country's richest people, will pay "a lot of money" for the trip, but declined to disclose the exact amount.

Elon Musk-founded SpaceX has announced that the company's first private passenger to the Moon will be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. Past year he spent $US110 million on a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Maezawa said he plans to invite six to eight artists to go on the trip with him.

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Until now, Americans are the only ones who have left Earth's orbit.

Astronauts last visited the moon during NASA's Apollo program.

While much attention has been focused on Mars, space industry experts say the moon could serve as a first step to future missions.

An off-the-cuff tweet also left investors reeling after Musk said he planned to take Tesla, his electric auto company, private. He stepped forward to do it. "We are honoured that he chose us".

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Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.

"This is unsafe, to be clear".

Musk further said that this mission isn't a walk in the park and is risky. "When you're pushing the frontier, it's not a sure thing", Musk said. There's always a chance that "something will go wrong".

Maezawa revealed that he'd purchased all seats on the first crewed flight of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket - a new launch system that's being created to colonize Mars.

"SpaceX is going to be doing many, many test flights to ensure safety and we will wait for that to happen before we go", Maezawa told Reuters.

He added that SpaceX planned to shift a majority of the company's engineering efforts toward BFR by the end of next year and welcomed the growing competition in the private space race.

This isn't the first time Musk has vowed to send tourists around the Moon. Under the current design, the BFR will be 118 meters long, with a payload capacity of 1,100 cubic meters and 100 metric tons. The BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is being developed in a SpaceX facility at the Port of Los Angeles.

The BFR spacecraft's shape is reminiscent of the space shuttle, the bus-like USA spaceships that carried astronauts to space 135 times from 1981 to 2011.

Two of Musk's fellow billionaires - Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group's Richard Branson - also want to make a business out of space tourism. A 90-minute flight costs US$250,000. 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.

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