Japanese billionaire will be first SpaceX private passenger

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The Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, Musk said on Monday at the company's headquarters near Los Angeles.

The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 237,685 miles (382,500 kilometres ).

"It's not 100 per cent certain we can bring this to flight", Mr Musk said of the lunar mission. Maezawa did not reveal how much he paid for the upcoming flight, but Musk confirmed Maezawa is "paying a very significant amount of money".

The Japanese billionaire is also known as a contemporary art collector and curator with a large collection at his Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo, which features works of various renowned painters like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Of course, the goal of this would be that once the artists would come back from the Moon, they will be able to come up with great artwork.

"I wish to create wonderful works of art for humankind", he said.

Maezawa didn't immediately say who will be on his guest list for the spaceflight, but in response to a question from a reporter he said he'd consider inviting Musk. The comment caused Tesla's stock to soar, and Musk said Tesla would remain public a few days later. "And late Sunday, Musk further fueled the anticipation by tweeting out artist renderings of the massive launch vehicle that SpaceX is developing to fly into deep space, with a simple message: "#OccupyMars".

The reusable 118m rocket will have its own dedicated passenger ship and its development is expected to cost about US$5 billion, Musk said.

What you need to know about the first tourist that SpaceX is taking around the moon

That mission, the Apollo 17, included a crew made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt. The company's Space Dragon crew capsule, which is meant to take astronauts to the International Space Station, missed an initial target date of 2017 and won't see a manned test until 2019.

A total of 24 NASA astronauts, all men, traveled to the Moon and back during the Apollo missions during the 1960s and 1970s. Twenty-four NASA astronauts flew to the moon from 1968 through 1972, and only 12 of them strolled its dusty surface.

NASA is shooting for its own flyby of the moon, with a crew, around 2023.

In 2016 he sold $250 million worth of stock so he could buy more art. Musk did not name the clients a year ago or say how much they would pay.

SpaceX already has a long list of firsts, with its sights ultimately set on Mars.

SpaceX has not talked much about putting private citizens in space since February 2017.

He has alleged that a cave diver in Thailand who helped rescue stranded boys was a "pedo", smoked what appeared to be marijuana on a comedian's podcast, spooked Tesla investors with comments about the future of the electric auto maker, and admitted to exhaustion and use of the sleeping pill Ambien.

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