Money & Power

SpaceX's First Man to the Moon Is a Japanese Billionaire Who Promised to Bring Artists with Him

It will be the first lunar mission taken by humans since NASA sent Apollo 17 there in 1972.
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Elon Musk had a big day Monday. At a news conference in California, he introduced the first private tourist to take a SpaceX rocket to the moon and back: Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire who founded an online clothing company called Zozo. Maezawa had already put a deposit down for the trip—"a significant deposit," as Musk said—and he ought to be rocketing off toward the moon in SpaceX's B.F.R. rocket in 2023 at the earliest.

Speaking of humanity's highs, Maezawa made an intriguing promise at the SpaceX news conference. “I choose to go to the moon, with artists,” he said, according to The New York Times. He said he would take five to eight artists and performers around the moon in a trip he hoped would inspire great works; he called the project #dearMoon. The #dearMoon website hints that painters, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, novelists, and more will be considered.

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Maezawa made waves in the U.S. last year when he bought a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $110 million. On Monday he said he believed art might achieve world peace by bringing people together. Let us hope. And let us pray that he doesn't choose Kanye.

Maezawa's trip around the Moon will be the first lunar mission taken by humans since NASA sent Apollo 17 there in 1972. He will fly aboard the B.F.R.—the "Big Falcon Rocket," or "big fucking rocket" if you're feeling saucy—a new type of rocket that SpaceX is developing to shuttle people to Mars. Musk estimated the cost of the flight would be anywhere between $2 billion and $10 billion, but didn't disclose how much Maezawa had paid.

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Maezawa was originally supposed to travel around the moon with one other passenger on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket later this year, but Musk confirmed that mission had been scrapped in favor of focusing on the B.F.R.'s potential. The B.F.R. will be able to launch and land repeatedly, and hold dozens of passengers. The liftoff timeline is set for five years, but don't hold your breath. Musk has been over-eager with his goals before.

At the conference, Musk said Maezawa asked him to take the first lunar flight with him and his artists. Musk hedged, but said, “Maybe we’ll both be on it.” Space is the billionaires' frontier now. All we can do is hope Musk treats it right—and that those artsy folks balance him out.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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