Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Japan fashion billionaire Maezawa picked by SpaceX for moon flight

Japan fashion billionaire Maezawa picked by SpaceX for moon flight

Japanese billionaire businessman Yusaku Maezawa appeared alongside Musk yesterday to announce he's signed up for the trip, known as the "moon loop", which could take place as soon as 2023.

Billionaire Maezawa, founder of online fashion outlet Zozotown, will pay a "material percentage" of the spacecraft's design and construction costs, according to Musk.

"I choose to go to the moon with artists", Maezawa said Monday. He added he was excited, honored and grateful.

The announcement represents a reprieve from months of bad news for SpaceX founder Elon Musk, whose efforts to take on Twitter trolls and to take private Tesla, another company he founded and now leads.

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So far, Musk said the BFR project is a relatively small project within SpaceX, which has become a major space launch firm for satellites and to resupply the International Space Station. The company's upcoming reusable rocket is slated to cost $5 billion to develop over the coming years.

In February 2017, SpaceX said two "private citizens" had "paid a significant deposit" for a trip around the moon.

The 42-year-old Maezawa is one of Japan's most colorful executives and is a regular fixture in the country's gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.

The unprecedented mission is planned to launch on SpaceX's yet to be built BFR (or "Big Falcon Rocket") in 2023.

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At the SpaceX announcement, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made it clear that this was a risky mission.

The company has revealed little else about the trip, and it's anyone's guess when it might actually happen. Musk has earlier said that he wants the BFR to be capable of holding 100 people and could one day be used to colonise Moon and Mars.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", the billionaire entrepreneur said during a press conference held at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

The company said the flight on board the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) - a launch system that was unveiled by Mr Musk in 2016 - represented "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space". However, Musk said that rocket would not be certified to carry people, which ruled out a round-the-moon trip on a Falcon Heavy.

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The United States hasn't had the ability to put humans in orbit since the Space Shuttle era ended in 2011. The company now has the Falcon and Falcon Heavy rockets.

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