Elon Musk introduces Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as first BFR customer

News					SpaceX CEO Elon Musk teases BFR update with new rocket launch renders

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire entrepreneur and art collector.

SpaceX says it's signed the first private passenger to fly around the Moon in one of its rockets, and will reveal the mystery passenger's name at 6 p.m.

In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric auto maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalising details about the trip and the passenger's identity, but left major questions unanswered.

Neither Maezawa nor Musk would disclose the price of the flight, but Musk said that Maezawa - who had been one of the two customers for SpaceX's earlier plans for a circumlunar flight on a Dragon announced almost 18 months ago, but since shelved - had already made a down payment.

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

Musk says he's aiming for Maezawa's moonshot to take place in 2023. Musk described Maezawa as incredibly fearless.

"Maybe we'll both be on it, " Musk said with a smile. "This is not walk in the park here".

Musk said the pair had paid a "significant" deposit and were "entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here". There's some chance that something could go wrong.

He added: "It's not 100% certain that we succeed in getting this to flight".

Over the weekend, Musk shared new renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket.

In the past few months, Musk has lashed out at analysts during an earnings call for Tesla, his electric auto company, for asking "boring, bonehead questions".

The ISS orbits 254 miles (408 km) above Earth.

In August he had shocked investors by flirting on Twitter with the idea of taking Tesla private.

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However, Musk used social media to drop hints ahead of the announcement.

Elon Musk has revealed his first customer to go around the moon. He plans to invite between six and eight artists to join him on the trip as part of a project called Dear Moon, which he launched online shortly after his trip was announced.

If all goes according to plan, Maezawa and his artist crew may become the first people to fly SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket - a new launch system that's being created to colonize Mars - and also the first-ever private lunar tourist in history. To travel to the Moon, Maezawa will fly on board the company's upcoming BFR rocket, which SpaceX is now building and promises to take humanity to Mars and beyond.

After an uncrewed demonstration flight this fall and an in-flight abort test, U.S. Air Force Colonel Bob Behnken and former Marine Corps test pilot Doug Hurley will be the first two astronauts to fly in SpaceX's Crew Dragon. The BFR, as it is known, is in development, possibly years from flying.

He will become the first non-American to orbit the moon.

Its plan to fly tourists around the moon has also been delayed.

He will be the first person to travel to the moon since the United States' Apollo missions ended in 1972. "Usually there are many setbacks and issues", Musk said.

It consists of a massive rocket booster that promises to out-power any that has ever been built and a towering spacecraft, nicknamed BFS for Big Falcon Spaceship, that will vault out of the Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell gave a more generous time frame for BFR's debut during a TED Talk in April, saying it would launch "within a decade". It has disrupted the launch market, winning not just billions in NASA contracts but also contracts from the Pentagon.

The spacecraft will continue on toward the Moon, powered by its own engines.

Dear Elon Musk, where the hell is my Boring Not-a-Flamethrower?

"All of that noise in the background, that is the sound of awesome things happening", NASA astronaut Victor Glover said.

"I think, overall, It's going to be great to inspire others", said Tracy Lamm, the chief operating officer at Space Center Houston.

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