A Japanese billionaire who wants to take his love of art to the heavens will be the first private passenger to fly around the moon, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced Monday. Apparently, both had already put down deposits on the flight, which would have lasted a week.
But Musk cautioned that SpaceX may not meet its 2023 timeline for the lunar mission. "Together with Earth's top artists, I will be heading to the Moon... just a little earlier than everyone else", Maezawa wrote on his website for the project, #dearMoon. Musk said Maezawa's payment is big enough to "have a material effect on paying for cost and development of BFR", which could cost as much as $5 billion overall.
He added: "It's not 100% certain that we succeed in getting this to flight ..."
Maezawa's trip to the moon will be made on board a BFR, which is now still in development.
A Japanese billionaire has signed up to become SpaceX's first private passenger to fly to the Moon.
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Iran's Revolutionary Guard is a paramilitary force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Shi'ite Iran is at odds with Western-allied Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia for predominance in the Middle East.
Maezawa and whoever flies with him will join an exclusive club - only two dozen astronauts have ever visited the moon, and no one has been to the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
The agency eventually plans to build a small space station in orbit around the moon that will serve as a technology testbed and jumping off point for descents to the lunar surface and, eventually, on to Mars.
The lawsuit brought by Vernon Unsworth, who helped with the rescue of 12 Thai teenagers from a flooded cave in July, seeks $75,000 (£57,000) in compensation and an injunction against Mr Musk to stop further allegations.
Mr Maezawa came to SpaceX with the idea for the group flight, Mr Musk said.
As Reuters reports, the actual cost of the trip hasn't been revealed, but Maezawa noted that the journey will set him back significantly more than his art purchases. "There's a chance that something could go wrong".
But Musk threw a curve ball during a Falcon Heavy press conference earlier this year when he told reporters that, for the time being, SpaceX had no plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight.
Boeing is also hard at work on its crew vehicle, with pioneering flights planned for 2019 as well.