Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Science | By Celia Watts

SpaceX mystery moon passenger revealed, and he's a billionaire

SpaceX mystery moon passenger revealed, and he's a billionaire

Japanese billionaire Maezawa is the founder of ZOZO, one of Japan's largest online clothing retailers.

SpaceX's BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) could well be the most important single vehicle in the history of humankind, should the various predictions about humanity's need to eventually vacate Earth and set up colonies on Mars come true.

According to Maezawa, he purchased all of the available seats on the Big Falcon Rocket and plans to take six to eight artists with him.

"So, I choose to go to the moon with artists".

But newrenderings Musk shared this morning hint at significant design changes.

SpaceX said the mission will use the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR - which is still being developed.

In an interview in March, Musk said the ship was now being built, adding "I think we'll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year".

The mission will mark the first visit to the Moon by humans since Nasa's Apollo 17 landing in 1972.

"How many people would've looked at SpaceX in 2008 and imagined that in 2018 we'd be where we are?"

"This would be a long loop around the moon", stated Mr. Musk in regard to the private citizen flight of BFR.

SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world. Both Falcons are now still in development, so hopefully this will not be a rerun of SpaceX's 2017 plan to take private citizens into space.

The BFR spacecraft's shape is reminiscent of the space shuttle, the bus-like USA spaceships that carried astronauts to space 135 times from 1981 to 2011.

Announced past year, the BFR ship will sit 118 metres long - previously announced as 106 metres (347 feet) long - and Musk has said the ship will contain up to 40 cabins which will have enough space for 100 people. SpaceX, which is under contract by NASA to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station, recently announced it had to delay that first flight to April of next year.

Virgin Galactic, founded by British tycoon Richard Branson, and billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's rocket company Blue Origin, are working on trips to the edge of space that could offer tourists a chance at weightlessness for 10 minutes or so. A 90-minute flight costs US$250,000.

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behaviour and the struggles of his Tesla electric auto company to deliver.

Last week, video of him smoking marijuana during a podcast appearance sent Tesla shares tumbling. SpaceX hasn't yet launched any humans into space, though it has spent years working toward that goal.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed him to the world on Monday night after days of speculation about who the passenger might be.

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