Japanese billionaire businessman, Yusaku Maezawa was revealed as the first tourist who will fly on a SpaceX rocket around the Moon by company’s CEO Elon Musk. At the unveiling, Musk said “Maezawa will fly to the moon aboard a new rocket called the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is still in development”.
The Big Falcon Rocket was first announced in 2016, and was touted as the most powerful rocket in history, even more potent than the Saturn V Moon rocket that launched the Apollo missions five decades ago.
“I choose to go to the Moon,” the 42-year-old billionaire said to cheers and applause at SpaceX headquarters in California, after being introduced by the aerospace company.
"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. I choose to go to the moon with artists. In 2023, as the host, I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon. They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us." Maezawa said.
"Until now, Americans are the only ones who have left Earth's orbit. A total of 24 NASA astronauts - all white men - voyaged to the Moon during the Apollo era of the 1960s and 1970's. Twelve walked on the lunar surface" he added.
Earlier, Maezawa teased his announcement in several tweets, starting when he said there was a "big announcement" coming "about mid-September."
Big announcement here soon. Please follow me and stay tuned!!!— Yusaku Maezawa 前澤友作 (@yousuck2020) August 31, 2018
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Maezawa is the 18th richest person in Japan with a fortune of USD 3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
SpaceX's mysterious passenger won't be the world's first space tourist. Earlier, American engineer and multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who was the first non-astronaut to travel to the space, paid USD 20 million to spend eight days on the International Space Station in April 2001.
The last space tourist was Canadian businessman Guy Laliberté, who flew to the International Space Station in 2009.