SpaceX is flying a Japanese billionaire to the moon in 2023

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SpaceX has announced the identity of its first passenger to fly on its forthcoming BFR spacecraft, headed around the moon in 2023.

Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa speaks about his moon mission through SpaceX.

The BFR is SpaceX's upcoming two-stage reusable spaceship system that will weigh 9.7 million pounds and be capable of taking a 330,000 pound payload to Mars and lower-Earth orbit (LEO), officials say.

Our correspondent, Mary MacCarthy, joins us from Los Angeles. "I don't like being alone, so I want to share these experiences and things with as many people as possible, so that is why I choose to go to the moon with artists!"

The billionaire tweeted out an emoji of the Japanese flag, sparking speculation that a billionaire from Japan was planning to make the flight.

SpaceX previously announced plans to eventually use Falcon Heavy to launch paying space tourists on a trip around the moon, but Musk said in February he was inclined to reserve that mission for the BFR.

Maezawa has chartered a flight aboard the company's Big Falcon Rocket for a slingshot trip around the Moon, which is expected to take place in 2023.

"This project is very meaningful - to be the first private passenger on the moon - but I also hope I can contribute to world peace, my lifelong dream", Maezawa said.

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Maezawa is worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes, and founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer.

SpaceX's CEO is clearly chomping at the bit to reveal more information about the company's newest BFR iteration, hopefully now closing in on something close to what will actually enter production and begin flight testing.

The price for a SpaceX lunar mission is likely hefty, though Musk pointed out, "It's going to be free for the artists".

While the trip to the moon is, in and of itself, a fairly bold undertaking, realistically it's just the first step towards Musk's ultimate goal of being the person that facilitated humanity's move to living on two separate planets.

Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber.

BFR will inevitably borrow heavily from almost a decade of designing, building, testing, launching, and upgrading 60+ Falcon 9 and Heavy rockets, all successes and failures included. SpaceX is now working on a prototype in a temporary facility located at the port of Los Angeles.

After giving an update on the BFR's overall architectural changes (for which NASASpaceflight will publish an in-depth article later), Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and Lead Designer at SpaceX, introduced the person who purchased an entire BFR for a flight around the moon. He had said that the trip would happen this year.

Musk said SpaceX would conduct several uncrewed test launches of the BFR.

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