By Elton Gomes
On Monday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX revealed that the mystery passenger who will take the first private flight to the moon is Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. The development comes after Musk tweeted an emoji of the Japanese flag when asked whether he would be the first passenger on the commercial trip to the moon.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 14, 2018
Who is Yusaku Maezawa?
Yusaku Maezawa, is a 42-year-old Japanese billionaire and founder of Zozotown, Japan’s largest online clothing retailer. Being an art aficionado, Maezawa plans to bring other artists on his celestial voyage. He wishes to take artists to transform the ride into an art project called #dearMoon.
Maezawa has been reportedly valued at around $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. He is an avid art collector and spent $110.5 million on purchasing a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Maezawa said that he has “bought all the seats” on the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) and will be inviting other artists to join him on the week-long mission to the moon.
“I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon,” he said. “These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us,” the Verge reported.
Maezawa added that although he hasn’t finalised on which artists would accompany him, he would like them to represent multiple fields such as painters, musicians, film directors, and more.
Talking about the importance of art, Maezawa said that art contributed to his hope of achieving world peace. “Art makes people smile, brings people together,” he told the New York Times.
At SpaceX’s event, Maezawa said he was initially a skateboarder and was fascinated by American culture. After spending six months in the US, he returned to Japan and was part of a band where he played the drums before starting a mail-order business called Start Today in 1998.
Two years later, he took Start Today online. In an interview with the Japan Times, he noted that he was still president of his own company while touring with his band. Start Today eventually tasted significant success and reached a point where Maezawa decided to quit his band and take his online business forward.
Maezawa did not state the cost of a ticket onboard the BFR, but Musk said, “It’s going to be free for the artists,” the Atlantic reported. If the trip is successful, it is sure to change the record of moon travellers. So far,only 24 people have travelled to the moon while 12 people have walked on the moon. All of these 12 have been Americans, male, and white, and with fairly similar backgrounds. An entire spaceship full of civilians with varying backgrounds will surely rewrite history.
Musk unveils BFR
Musk began Monday’s event by displaying images of the BFR. Once completed, the BFR will measure 118 meters in height. Musk proposed that the entire system—rocket, spaceship, and other hardware—would take about $5 billion to develop.
Musk further said that SpaceX will be conducting several uncrewed test launches of the BFR. When Musk was asked whether SpaceX would be able to meet its 2023 deadline, he replied, “We’re definitely not sure,” the Atlantic reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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