A reporter takes a smart phone photo of a mock up of the Crew Dragon spacecraft during a media tour of SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory on August 13, 2018 in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX plans to use the spaceship Crew Dragon, a passenger version of the robotic Dragon cargo ship, to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa first paying passenger on SpaceX 2023 moon flight

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced a plan for a new commercial space flight around the moon several years ago and Monday, in Hawthorne, California, Musk announced his first paying passenger on a planned 2023 flight around the moon.

Japanese entrepreneur, billionaire and globally renowned art collector Yusaku Maezawa is that passenger.

Yusaku, one of the richest people in Japan, said he’s been obsessed with going to the moon for as long as he can remember.

“Ever since I was a kid, I loved the moon,” he said.

“Throughout the ages the moon has fulfilled our imagination.”

Yasaku’s down payment for the flight is helping with the development of the flight system and booster, Musk said, although neither Musk nor Yasaku will reveal how much the billionaire art lover is paying for the flight.

“He is the, I think, bravest person and most willing to do so and he was the best adventurer, I think. He stepped forward to do it,” Musk said in complimenting the Japanese entrepreneur.

“He’s ultimately paying for the average person to be able to go.”

Musk admitted that SpaceX may not be able to meet the 2023 deadline for a passenger flight around the moon.

“This is a dangerous mission. It’s definitely dangerous,” he said.

>> Related: NASA selects crews for first commercial test flights, missions on Space X Dragon, Boeing Starliner

Musk said many test flights are planned ahead of the scheduled launch in 2023.

“First orbital flight in two to three years. We’ll do many such test flights before putting any people onboard.” He also said a test flight around the moon would probably be needed before the actual flights with humans aboard.

Yasaku said he will take eight other people along with him on the flight, eight artists. He said he wants to invite renowned artists who can understand the beauty of what they’ll see on the trip, but he said has not yet chosen them or extended any invitations.

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