BILLIONAIRE Elon Musk has unveiled the first private passenger on a space trip around the Moon.
Musk revealed Japanese billionaire art collector Yusaku Maezawa has booked his place aboard the stunning lunar voyage set for 2023.
Yusaku, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, said he wanted to use the mission to inspire world peace.
He made millions investing in art and after founding fashion brand ZOZO through his company START TODAY.
The mission will be operated by Musk’s SpaceX rocket company – but Yusaku refused to reveal how much he paid for the trip.
Musk said: “He has made a significant deposit on the price, which is a significant price.
“He puts his money where his mouth is.”
Yusaku told a thrilled conference in California: “I thought long and hard how valuable it would to become the first private passenger to go to the Moon.
“I thought about how this could contribute to world peace. This is my lifelong dream.”
SpaceX first announced its Moon mission back in February 2017, but details were light at the time.
To cheers from the crowd, Yusaku said his space travel ambitions were inspired by artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Lennon, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.
And he vowed to take six to eight living artists with him on his lunar quest, asking painters, directors and designers to get in touch.
His plan is for the artists to come back to Earth and produce works inspired by the once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Musk told the conference: “It’s definitely a dangerous mission.”
He added that they would run tests in a facility near Texas.
Yusaku said he moved to Los Angeles when he was 18 and was inspired by America’s fashion, music, art and culture.
He returned to Japan and was a skateboarder and drummer in a band before launching his own company 20 years ago.
SpaceX said the mission was “an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of travelling to space.”
PayPal and Tesla founder Musk originally stayed tight-lipped on the passenger’s ID, but offered a key hint.
Someone on Twitter said “Elon, it’s you, isn’t it?”, to which Elon Musk replied with the Japanese flag emoji.
This suggested that the person set to take part in the flight would be either Japanese, or living in Japan.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here's what you need to know...
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
The mission is expected to use SpaceX’s upcoming Big Falcon Rocket system.
The 157-foot-tall spaceship sits atop a 191-foot booster rocket, and is expected to carry SpaceX’s manned missions to Mars – which Musk says may begin as soon as next year.
Musk’s lunar loop trip is a good opportunity to test the BFR before it takes aim at the red planet.
There’s no definitive launch date, but it could be timed to coincide with next year’s 50th anniversary of the original moon landing. Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Musk’s Moon trip will be a bit of much-needed positive publicity for controversial SpaceX boss.
Just last week, the billionaire was propositioned by a porn firm to star in a weed-themed adult movie.
It came just weeks after billionaire Musk was filmed smoking weed live on camera.
The PayPal founder appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, puffing on a joint for all the world to see.
The billionaire is also facing three potential lawsuits in different countries after accusing a British diver of being a “paedo”.
Vernon Unsworth, who helped in the rescue of children from a Thailand cave earlier this year, was attacked by Musk on Twitter.
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Musk dubbed Unsworth a “paedo guy” without offering any proof, and doubled down on the accusation in several tweets sent later.
The Tesla boss did eventually apologise, but later queried why Unsworth hadn’t actually sued him – hoping to cash doubt on the diver’s character.
Unsworth is now reportedly preparing to sue Musk – who has a net worth of $20.4billion (£15.6bn) – for defamation in London, New York and Thailand.