'Dangerous' moon mission eases Musk's woes

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'Dangerous' moon mission eases Musk's woes

United States private space firm SpaceX has announced that the company's first private passenger to the Moon will be Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

The company made the announcement from its headquarters in Hawthorne, California - not far from where the Emmy awards were being handed out in Los Angeles on Monday evening.

After people responded with questions, Musk weighed in and confirmed that the render of the Big Falcon Rocket, which is still in development, is new and "intentionally" created to resemble one seen in a classic Tintin comic.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut travelled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

He's the nation's 18th richest person, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion. His most expensive known purchase is a large work by Jean-Michel Basquiat valued at $110.5 million. Maezawa, an avid art collector, plans to bring six to eight artists with him. The BFR is central to SpaceX's plans of eventually putting people on Mars for the first time, but first of all, they need to prove that the thing actually works. Calling it a "dangerous mission" and "not a walk in the park", he said SpaceX will complete several test flights before putting humans on the rocket.

The Japanese billionaire declined to say how much he paid for the Lunar mission, but Musk said it was "a lot of money" that'll go toward making space flight a reality for all humans.

"I thought about how this can contribute to the world and world peace, it's my lifelong dream", Maesawa said.

In an interview with the Observer, Maezawa said that while he'd always had a deep interest in art and fashion, he didn't start collecting until about 10 years ago. Rest assured Maezawa, I won't say no.

Astronauts last visited the moon during NASA's Apollo program.

Whatever the details, SpaceX is touting an experience considerably more ambitious than space tourism plans under development by other private companies.

SpaceX announced it had reached an agreement to launch the tourist into space last Friday via Twitter. "As far as me going, I'm not sure", Musk said.

Musk showed off designs for the 118-meter (129 yards) long BFR, which will consist of a first stage with engines and fuel systems, and a second stage with the spacecraft where the passengers will ride.

The BFR is actually two components: a powerful booster and a passenger-carrying module, the Big Falcon Spaceship.

Expected payload: one man who, according to this cryptic tweet from Musk himself, is not Elon Musk and may be Japanese. The company's upcoming reusable rocket is slated to cost $5 billion to develop over the coming years.

According to Musk's presentation [PDF] previous year, the mighty BFR will stand 118 metres tall when erected on its launchpad, and will be able to lift 150 tons into low Earth orbit with the help of a massive central booster, making it the most powerful rocket ever to fly.

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