09/18/2018, 13.30
JAPAN
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Japanese billionaire to be first private passenger on moon flight

Elon Musk's SpaceX made the announcement yesterday. Yusaku Maezawa, 42, is expected to travel to the moon in 2023. He plans to bring painters, sculptors and other artists.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday announced that Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private passenger to take a trip around the moon.

Maezawa, a 42-year-old Japanese billionaire who founded the online fashion retail giant Zozotown, will travel on the Big Falcon rocket (BFR) in 2023.

The details of the trip are still shrouded in mystery, but the BFR is being developed so that it can carry passengers to Mars by 2024. The adventure is being promoted with the hashtag #OccupyMars.

It is not clear how much the tycoon will pay for the lunar experience. Maezawa will be the first passenger to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972.

"I can tell you that I have chosen to go to the moon," the billionaire said, adding plans to bring with him a group of artists – including painters, sculptors, photographers and architects.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. It's always there and continues to inspire humanity”.

An unconventional businessman and artist himself, Maezawa founded the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo in 2012.

The tycoon joins the long list of celebrities and super-rich who have booked a space trip.

Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs US$ 250,000.

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