Japanese Billionaire To Fly BFR To The Moon in 2023, Along With Some Friends

Japanese Billionaire To Fly BFR To The Moon in 2023, Along With Some Friends

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tonight introduced the first person who will fly around the Moon on SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. He does not plan to make the trip alone.  An art collector, he will invite six to eight artists to join him so they can create art that reflects their experiences.  The week-long trip would notionally take place in 2023, although Musk made clear that is only a planning date.  Both declined to reveal how much Maezawa is paying.

Maezawa is calling the effort “Dear Moon” and created a website with a video explaining why he wants to go set to the music Clair de Lune.

He enthusiastically exclaimed “Finally I can say I choose to go to the Moon,” then added “with artists.”  He has not decided which artists to invite.  Instead he listed many of the artists he admires, but are no longer living, speculating on what they would think if they had this chance.

Asked why he chose a Japanese citizen to make this first BFR flight around the Moon, Musk replied “he chose us.”  Musk also revealed that it was Maezawa who bought the two seats on a Falcon Heavy (FH) last year, but the FH with a Crew Dragon can accommodate only two people, while the BFR can carry “a dozen.”

According to Forbes, Maezawa, 42, founded Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown, and is worth $2.9 billion.  He is a collector of modern art.  As to why he wants to make this flight and bring artists with him, he explained that he wants to contribute to world peace, his “lifelong dream,” and believes this is a way to do that.

Several reporters tried to find out how much Maezawa is paying, but succeeded only in getting Musk to say it is a “substantial” amount that will materially contribute to BFR’s development. Maezawa confirmed he has made a down payment already.  Musk estimated the BFR development cost at $5 billion, but later gave a range of between $2 billion and $10 billion.

The 2023 date assumes that everything goes right in development, which Musk allowed rarely happens.  The date is for planning purposes only.  The BFR consists of two stages — the rocket and the spaceship.  He anticipates “hopping” tests of the spaceship next year and orbital flights in the next two-three years.  (Earlier this year, he said they would take place in three-four years.)  Several uncrewed test flights will be conducted before putting people aboard, probably including an uncrewed test flight around the Moon.

Musk tweeted a photo of the two of them clowning around (Maezawa is on Musk’s shoulders) before the announcement. Maezawa’s Twitter handle is @yousuck2020.

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