Meet tech billionaire who'll be SpaceX's first moon tourist

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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa stood before the audience gathered at SpaceX headquarters Monday evening and was greeted by cheers when he echoed a line from a famous speech by President John F. Kennedy, proclaiming "I choose to go to the moon".

Maezawa gained his riches by founding two major Japanese online retailers, Zozotown and Start Today, which have made him one of the wealthiest people in Japan.

So he's inviting up to eight other people - including artists, designers and architects to join him, in what would be a historic moment.

A former drummer in a punk band, Maezawa is tentatively planning to make his moon flight in 2023 aboard SpaceX's forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.

And the 2023 date, by the way, is far from set in stone; a lot of development and testing work will have to go well for SpaceX to hit that target, Musk said. The idea is for those creative minds to see the moon up close and planet Earth from afar.

This could be humanity's first lunar visit since 1972, depending on how NASA's latest moon plans shape up. The rocket should fly at a distance of 200 kilometers from the moon. He drew attention past year with the purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $110.5 million.

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Maezawa, whose net worth is $2.3 billion, is the founder and CEO of Japan's second-largest e-commerce company Start Today Co. I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us.

"These are all artists that I adore, but sadly they are no longer with us", he said.

Mr Musk said Mr Maezawa had outlaid a significant deposit and would have a material impact on the cost of developing the BFR, which he estimated at US$5 billion.

SpaceX has revealed the private passenger who will be going on a tourist trip to the moon.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself, that would be a little lonely", he said.

As for Musk, he's not sure when he'll go to space, even though Maezawa extended the invitation to him.

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

"I know that sounds insane, and we don't usually meet our time lines, but I wanted you to know at least order of magnitude, that's what we're thinking", Shotwell said.

Some of the Apollo missions orbited without landing, as this one will.

SpaceX investor and private astronaut, Richard Garriott, who spent 11 days visiting the International Space Station, in 2008, said those who were aboard the spacecraft would experience the "overview effect" - a profound shift in perspective when seeing Earth from space.

The price tag for Maezawa's ticket isn't clear and SpaceX did not make that information public. Now, perhaps it's about the next stage in human spaceflight-and maybe, the beauty.

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

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