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Elon Musk unveils first tourist for SpaceX 'Moon loop'

9/18/2018 1:05:11 PMVisitors: 449

<p>Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon <strong>Yusaku Maezawa</strong>, 42, announced:<strong> "I choose to go to the Moon."</strong></p> <p>He is expected to lift-off on the <strong>Big Falcon Rocket (BFR)</strong>, a launch system that was <strong>unveiled by Mr Musk in 2016.</strong></p> <p>The mission, which is <strong>currently planned for 2023</strong>, will mark the first visit to the Moon by humans since <strong>Nasa's Apollo 17 landing in 1972</strong>.</p> <p>The announcement was made at <strong>SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California</strong>, on Tuesday.</p> <p>The company said the flight represented "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space".</p> <p>Earlier on Twitter, Mr Musk had already hinted that the passenger would be from Japan.</p> <p><strong>Mr Maezawa</strong> made headlines last year after paying $110.5m (&pound;85.4m) for a painting by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at an auction in New York.</p> <p>The art enthusiast said on Monday he would invite six to eight artists from around the world to join him as he <strong>blasts into space on board the SpaceX rocket in 2023</strong>.</p> <p>"They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us," he told reporters.</p> <p><strong>Only 24 humans have visited the Moon - all of them Americans.</strong> Some of the Apollo missions orbited without landing, as this one will.</p> <p>However, this launch will rely on a rocket that has not been built yet, and Mr Musk has said: "It's not 100% certain we can bring this to flight."</p> <p>In 2017, Mr Musk announced that he would be sending two paying passengers on a loop around the Moon - which was to have launched as early as this year.</p> <p>At the time, SpaceX was to have used its <strong>heavy-lift Falcon Heavy rocket</strong> and the crewed version of the existing <strong>Dragon spacecraft.</strong></p> <p>But in February this year, Mr Musk said SpaceX would concentrate on the <strong>BFR </strong>for future crewed missions.</p> <p>The <strong>BFR </strong>has never flown, but Mr Musk has released some technical details about it. The rocket is expected to stand 118m high and have a diameter of 9m.</p> <p>By comparison, the Falcon Heavy is 70m tall and consists of a central rocket core surrounded by two boosters, each with a diameter of 3.66m.</p> <p>On Monday, Mr Musk unveiled new artist impressions of the BFR and the spaceship which will carry passengers around the Moon.</p> <p>It appeared to confirm some design changes to the spaceship, including three large fins near the back and a black heat-shield on the craft's underside.</p> <p>Eventually, the <strong>BFR </strong>should be able to lift a whopping 150 tonnes into low-Earth orbit - that is more than the US Saturn V rockets that lofted the Apollo spacecraft.</p> <p>The <strong>SpaceX </strong>founder has attracted some uncomfortable headlines of late - he recently smoked marijuana during a webcast with a US comedian.</p> <p>Shares in <strong>Tesla </strong>have had a turbulent time after the entrepreneur said in a tweet last month that he wanted to take the carmaker private. He abandoned the idea about two weeks later.</p> <p>Earlier on Monday it emerged Mr Musk was being sued for defamation over his repeated claims that a British cave diver was a child abuser.</p> <p>The lawsuit brought by <strong>Vernon Unsworth</strong>, who helped with the rescue of 12 Thai teenagers from a flooded cave in July, seeks $75,000 (&pound;57,000) in compensation and an injunction against Mr Musk to stop further allegations.</p>

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