Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, the space transportation company announced at an event on Monday.
The flight is tentatively planned for 2023, reported Reuters. While the amount Maezawa paid for the trip was not disclosed, SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the businessman put down a significant deposit that will go a long way in covering the cost of the spacecraft.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon,” said Maezawa, who owns online fashion retailer Zozo. “It’s always there and continues to inspire humanity.”
Musk said Maezawa, 42, will take eight artists and cultural figures with him on the voyage. “He’s a very brave person to do this,” said Musk.
Musk, through the Big Falcon Rocket, aims to commercialise space travel. The super heavy-lift launch vehicle will be capable of taking passengers to the moon and is eventually expected to fly humans and cargo to Mars as well. Musk said the spaceship is expected to conduct its first orbital flights in two to three years.
Musk in 2017 had announced that SpaceX will send two private citizens around the moon by late 2018. The company had said it was approached by two individuals, who had already paid a “significant deposit” for a moon mission. Earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX was considering using the Big Falcon Rocket instead of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule. On Monday, the CEO confirmed that Maezawa is “the same person” whose name was announced before, reported CNBC.