SpaceX plans to launch its first paying space tourists on a multi-day trip around the moon as part of a risky, ambitious demonstration of the California-based company’s high-tech new rocket, founder and CEO Elon Musk announced in a Sept. 17 press conference.
Yusaku Maezawa, the wealthy founder of Japan’s largest online fashion mall, could travel around the moon atop one of SpaceX’s so-called “Big Fucking Rockets”—that’s “BFR,” for short—as early as 2023.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon,” Maezawa explained at the press conference.
Maezawa, a world-renown art collector, said he plans to invite six to eight artists to accompany him into space. “I have not decided which artists to invite,” Maezawa said with a laugh. “If you hear from me, please accept.”
The voyage, if successful, would make Maezawa and his fellow space tourists only the 25th to 30th or 32nd different people to travel from the Earth to the moon and back, and the first tourists to do so. The last moon mission—NASA’s Apollo 17, crewed by astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt—was in December 1972.
SpaceX did not disclose how much Maezawa paid for the privilege of being the 25th human being to travel to the moon. A ticket to the International Space Station, which orbits Earth at an altitude of just 150 miles, can cost up to $35 million for a space tourist. The moon, in comparison, is more than 200,000 miles from Earth.