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Yusaku Maezawa, multi-billionaire, and head of the largest Japanese online shopping mall, has been named the first private paying passenger for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.


On September 17th, SpaceX announced their new quest to send the 42-year-old e-commerce tycoon on a trip around the moon. As early as 2023, Maezawa is planning to embark on his journey around the moon accompanied by 8 other artists with varying talents, from a painter to a musician to a fashion designer.


As an avid art collector, Maezawa has envisioned a new project named #dearMoon. Maezawa believes in the power of creativity and imagination and hopes that the project will inspire the artists to create something that has never been seen before.


Maezawa projected venture to the moon is a major milestone in the pursuit to commercialize space travel. Maezawa and his artists will be flying on the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The 387-foot tall rocket will surpass all previous rocket and spacecraft models due to its reusability.


As far as a price tag goes, Elon Musk did not disclose how much the billionaire will have to pay. Musk did share that Maezawa is paying for a full BFR and made a “significant” downpayment on the journey. Although Musk didn’t share an exact number, we know that the total development of BFR can range anywhere between $5 billion to $10 billion.  


Although the trip is already in motion, the BFR still needs to be heavily tested before Maezawa travels to space. Humans have not traveled to the moon since NASA’s Apollo mission in 1972. SpaceX itself is still a year away from reaching their main objective, sending astronauts into low-Earth orbit (LEO). The idea of sending tourists to the moon, without stopping on the surface, is far beyond sending astronauts to LEO.


That being said, SpaceX hopes to start testing the BFR later next year and conduct full flights by early 2020. Since its creation in 2016, the BFR has undergone multiple changes, from expanding the diameter of the spaceship vehicle to introducing seven Raptor engines at the base. As the SpaceX team continues to construct the rocket, SpaceX’s test site in Texas is testing the Raptor engines.


Between now and the projected launch date, Maezawa plans to work closely with SpaceX and finding the 8 artists who will accompany him on his trip. Although there is much work to be done, from designing, building, and testing, Maezawa remains optimistic for his future venture.