WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first civilian space passenger on the SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket.
- Maezawa plans to take several artists with him on the space flight.
- Aside from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are also working on civilian space flights.
Elon Musk announced on September 17 that Yusaku Maezawa, Japanese art collector and entrepreneur, would be SpaceX’s first astro-tourist on its Big Falcon Rocket.
The Japanese billionaire, founder of the fashion label Zozo, announced his project launch DearMoon.Earth during the SpaceX webcast. Maezawa bought the seats for the entire flight, saying he plans to take six to eight artists with him during the space flight- an architect, fashion designer, film director, musician, painter, and photographer. The 240,000-mile, week-long trip is scheduled for 2023.
“[The moon] is always there and has inspired humanity. I don’t like being alone, so I want to share this experience with as many people as possible. I choose to go to the moon with artists.”
Maezawa wants his Dear Moon project, along with other artists to create art that will promote world peace and inspire generations. In an Instagram post, he speculates what the world would be like if artists like John Lennon and Pablo Picasso could have seen the earth from space or the moon up-close.
Maezawa would not disclose the amount, but he says that he already made a down payment for the flight.
Musk described it as a “significant price”, saying that the money would “help develop the BFR… to carry anyone to Mars, he is essentially paying for anyone to be able to travel to other planets.”
Musk said that the estimated cost of the BFR runs at about $5 billion and $10 billion.
He also said: “Less than 5 percent of SpaceX’s resources are currently spent on BFR. That will change significantly in years to come.”
The ultimate goal of the BFR is to go to Mars. In 2016, plans for the BFR were first announced. Musk has hopes for an unpiloted Mars trip by 2022 and a crewed flight by 2024.
Though the prospect of civilian space travel is becoming more of a reality, it’s almost certain that any future passengers will have to pay a breathtakingly large sum. The 100-person rocket intended to explore the moon has seats that are estimated to cost more than $35 million.
SpaceX may be leading the civilian space race, but there are other names that also have their focus set on space travel.
Another private space company, Blue Origin owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, is developing its own luxury rocket, which can carry six passengers into space. Though no estimates on the price have been made, a maiden voyage may be possible for 2018 based on successful test launches earlier this year.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, though not a rocket, is rumored to cost $250,000. It offers the experience of hearing space’s silence, around five minutes of weightlessness, and a view of the Earth’s curvature.