SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the first paying tourist that the company plans to fly around the moon on a 386,243km journey on its promised Big Falcon Rocket (BFR)-and it's Japanese billionaire, founder of online fashion giant Zozo, and art collector Yusaku Maezawa.
With SpaceX's announcement, Maezawa has also become the first passenger who will be travelling to the moon since the United States' Apollo missions ended in 1972.
SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
Before revealing Maezawa's mission to the Moon, Musk gave a heartfelt introduction as to why SpaceX exists in the first place.
CNN writes that Maezawa's net worth is an estimated at $2,9 billion.
"He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster", Musk told the crowd.
Musk also used the announcement to announce some changes to the BFR design, focused on the upper stage, or spaceship, portion.
"Please say yes and accept my invitation!" On board the vehicle will be Maezawa as well as six to eight artists he will select through a process yet to be determined. "This is no walk in the park", Musk said.
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"This would be a long loop around the moon", stated Mr. Musk in regard to the private citizen flight of BFR.
Musk, 47, made it clear before the private passenger event that crewed spaceflight for NASA remains SpaceX's top priority.
The response tweet sent Musk's fanbase into a myriad of speculations.
SpaceX has established its bona fides in the aerospace business by transporting supplies to the International Space Station and by completing the tricky maneuver of recovering rockets after launch so that they can be reused.
SpaceX said past year that it planned to send two private citizens around the moon in a Dragon crew capsule to be launched by a Falcon Heavy rocket. The craft created to ferry humans safely to and from the orbiting lab will take off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center in 2019.
NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023. The U.S. military branch last week downplayed media reports that it was looking into Musk's marijuana use on a livestreamed podcast earlier this month, saying they were inaccurate and that it was determining the facts.
Musk said SpaceX would conduct several uncrewed test launches of the BFR. He didn't discuss the other person.
In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalising details about the trip and the passenger's identity, but left major questions unanswered. "In order to minimize the development risk and cost, we chose to "commonize" the engine between the booster and ship", Musk said, adding that Raptor engines that are optimized for vacuum conditions could be added back in later. He's also asked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to join him on the flight, to which Musk replied: "Maybe we'll both be on it".
Chris Carlson/APYasuka Maezawa is a Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire. "This is my lifelong dream", Maezawa said.