Elon Musk announces Japanese billionaire as SpaceX's first space tourist
Days after SpaceX declared on Twitter that they had signed on the world's first passenger for a trip around the moon, the CEO Elon Musk, on Monday, announced that the mystery passenger is Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. The lunar trip, which will take Maezawa to the moon and back, is scheduled for 2023. Here's what we know about it.
Watch Musk announce the first space tourism trip
Maezawa had been teasing his journey on Twitter
Maezawa had been hinting at his upcoming lunar journey on Twitter. Over the last month, the billionaire teased Monday's announcement in various tweets, going as far as saying that a "big announcement" was due for "about mid-September". Following SpaceX's tweet about the mission on Friday, he tweeted, "There are no limits." Yet, for those unacquainted with Maezawa, it might have been a difficult guess.
Loved the moon since childhood, says Maezawa
"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. It's always there and continues to inspire humanity," said Maezawa, who is currently one of Japan's richest, having made his fortune as the founder of online retailers Start Today and Zozotown.
Details of what Maezawa has planned
Maezawa will use SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), currently under development, to attempt to fly around the moon. Provided there are no other lunar missions prior to Maezawa's celestial trip, the Japanese billionaire might become the first man to fly to the moon and back in a while. Maezawa also plans to take six or seven artists with him, but hasn't decided on who.
Musk highlights the dangers of the mission
Highlighting the dangers of the mission, Musk reminded everyone, "To be clear. This is dangerous... it's not a sure thing... there are some chances things could go wrong." The last lunar mission was undertaken way back in 1972.
A bit about Yusaku Maezawa, the entrepreneur and art collector
Born on November 22, 1975, Yusaku Maezawa is not just a highly successful entrepreneur, but also an eminent art collector. Maezawa founded Start Today in 1998, and went on to establish online fashion retail website, Zozotown, currently Japan's largest, in 2004. Forbes puts Maezawa's net worth at $2.7bn, and ranks him as the 18th richest person in Japan.
In 2016 and 2017, Maezawa made record art purchases
In 2016, Maezawa attracted significant media attention in 2016 and 2017 after he made record purchases of artworks by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat for $57.3mn and $110.5mn, respectively.