Thursday, 21 February, 2019

SpaceX to send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on journey around the moon

Enlarge this image Enlarge this image
Theresa Hayes | 18 September, 2018, 09:12

A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa, 42, will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialise space travel to new heights.

'They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth.

In typical fashion for any company owned by Elon Musk, they've made a decision to do so by blasting a single person - the world's first private passenger, around the moon and back to test the rocket's capability for far space travel.

Elon Musk introduced the first guy he'll be shooting off into space to orbit the moon - and it's a VERY rich entrepreneur from Japan who's worth billions. "Ever since I was a kid I've loved the Moon, that is while I didn't pass up this opportunity to see the Moon up close".

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself", he said. What do I want to do there?

That's right, six to eight artists "that represent Earth", will be invited by Maezawa to join him on his mission to the moon. The excited future space traveler exclaimed at the event, "I choose to go to the moon".

SpaceX didn't provide many details about the announcement, including whether the passenger will be there in person when Musk makes the announcement Monday from the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Astronauts last visited the moon during Nasa's Apollo programme.

Maezawa's trip to the moon will be made on board a BFR, which is now still in development. For this, he said, it is important to build technologies like the BFR that are capable of carrying a vast number of materials and resources.

Notable is the fact that Maezawa wishes to take people whose professions have - to date - prevented them from accessing space.

Maezawa, he hopes, will be the first of many to make such an epic journey. I thought long and hard about how to be able to become the first private passenger to go to the Moon. Falcon 9 is a prime example, although BFR is different in the sense that SpaceX has the luxury of starting from a slate that is far from blank.

Those comments add additional color to the updated narrative gradually trickling out of SpaceX as the company pushes towards a finalized "flight design" for the Mars-bound launch vehicle and spaceship, a critical step that must precede integrated design reviews and flight tests. A 90-minute flight costs US$250,000.

That Falcon Heavy/Crew Dragon flight was originally slated to occur in the later half of 2018.

Speaking to reporters via teleconference the day before Falcon Heavy's maiden voyage, Mr. Musk - with no forewarning - announced that the Falcon Heavy rocket would not be human rated and would not be used to carry crew. He had said that the trip would happen this year.

"Its not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight", Musk said of the lunar mission.

Looping a human around the moon is just the first stage of a plan that is targeted on the moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond. With SpaceX, he's described his mission as nothing short of making humans a multi-planetary species. He also mentioned that SpaceX spends less than five percent of its budget on the BFR, but it could increase.

NASASpaceflight will publish an in-depth article on the new elements of BFR announced this evening in the coming days.