SpaceX will take a Japanese billionaire on a trip around the Moon

SpaceX announces new plan to send tourist around Moon

Those artists will get a free ride with Maezawa, but when they return to Earth, he hopes they will create art projects based on their time on lunar soil.

But so far this year, his space firm has also kept up a schedule outpaced only by the Chinese government, making 15 launches with its Falcon 9 rocket.

Maezawa is chief executive of Japan's largest online fashion mall, and is the 18th richest person in Japan with a fortune of $3 billion, according to the business magazine Forbes.

Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.

Musk stressed that the mission will be unsafe and commended Maezawa for his bravery.

"He's paying a very significant amount of money", Musk said. "You have to set some kind of date that's the things-go-right date".

"SpaceX has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle - an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space", SpaceX said on its website.

He has not decided which artists to invite, but will be reaching out to painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, fashion designers and others. The original plan called for two paying passengers to fly around the moon this year, using a Falcon Heavy rocket and a Dragon crew capsule. After all, Musk has long maintained that helping make humanity a multiplanet species is the main reason he established SpaceX back in 2002.

The high cost of the trip - estimated at around $150m (£120m) - means the person is also presumably a billionaire. And he thanked Maezawa for providing a key piece of funding toward that end. The BFR is central to SpaceX's plans of eventually putting people on Mars for the first time, but first of all, they need to prove that the thing actually works.

The reusable 118-meter (387-foot) rocket will have its own dedicated passenger ship. The previous spaceship iteration sported just two rear fins.

This goes without saying, but the trip isn't exactly happening tomorrow.

For the first time in almost 50 years a human will go to the moon. SpaceX, which is under contract by NASA to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station, recently announced it had to delay that first flight to April of next year. On board the vehicle will be Maezawa as well as six to eight artists he will select through a process yet to be determined.

During the BFR flight, Maezawa - and certainly some of his other passengers - will become the first non-Americans to travel to the moon.

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