SpaceX confirmed last week that it had plans to launch a space tourist to the moon, but the identity of that person would not be revealed until Monday evening. The press conference took place as planned, and CEO Elon Musk stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the aspiring astronaut, Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa. It won’t be Maezawa alone on the rocket, though. His ticket entitles him to bring some friends along for the ride.
To date, only 24 human beings have left Earth orbit to travel to the moon, and the last one made the journey in 1972 at the end of the Apollo program. Many of them set foot on the moon to conduct experiments and collect samples, but Yusaku Maezawa won’t be taking a stroll on the surface. SpaceX plans to send Maezawa on a trip around the moon and back to Earth. Musk says the flight will take about a week from start to finish.
Maezawa made his billions as the founder of fashion brand Zozo, which creates custom tailored clothing. Maezawa says his difficulty finding clothes that fit properly as a young man inspired him to launch the venture. Zozo offers customers a polka dotted body suit called the “Zozosuit” to ensure they get the right fit. The suit is covered in hundreds of sizing dots, so a few photos of the wearer let Zozo create custom garments. Zozo has ambitious sales targets outside of Japan, but Yusaku Maezawa is perhaps best known in the west for his record-breaking $ 110 million purchase of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Maezawa’s interest in art is part of his desire to visit the moon. He announced at the press conference that he would bring along six to eight artists in an effort to promote creative endeavors and world peace. Maezawa has launched an art project to go along with the trip called #dearMoon, which already has a website.
SpaceX plans to use the BFR rocket for this mission, which is still in the development phase. Musk estimates that rocket will cost $ 5 billion before it even goes on its first mission. While he did not reveal the exact cost of Maezawa’s ticket, Musk did say the fee would have a “material effect” on the cost of getting BFR up and running.
The mission is tentatively set for 2023, but there are multiple development hurdles for BFR to clear first. SpaceX plans to send the rocket on unmanned test flights in advance to test systems. More details on the BFR and the lunar mission will come as we get closer to launch.