Who Is Yusaku Maezawa? SpaceX's First Lunar Passenger Is Revealed
"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon."
On Monday night, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa will be the world’s first private astronaut to take a trip around the moon aboard the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) during a press event at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The journey — which the company is calling “BFR Lunar Mission” will last an estimated four to five days and will take place as early as 2023.
Maezawa is a 42-year-old Japanese billionaire entrepreneur with an affinity for art who founded the custom clothing online retailer, ZOZO. As of May 2017, he was estimated to have a net worth of $3.6 billion. Musk revealed that Maezawa has secured his spot as the first-ever private space passenger to inspire a generation of artists with an all-expenses paid trip to the Moon in a effort he has dubbed “Dear Moon.”
“In 2023, as the host, I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon,” said Maezawa.
The billionaire said he will invited painters, sculptors, musicians, and architects from around the world. Upon their return all he requests is that they create a work of art using their stellar trek as inspiration.
“These artists will be asked to create something when they return to Earth,” explained Maezawa. “These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer inside all of us. Needless to say, we’ve always been inspired by the Moon. Take for example, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and The Beatles’ Mr. Moonlight.”
If successful Maezawa and the people who join him will be the first humans to travel to the Moon since the final Apollo mission in 1972. This would cement a massive milestone in the fledging space tourism industry that SpaceX has said the BFR will pioneer. Maezawa has yet to decide who will attending this mission alongside him, but he intends to reach out to “top artists” ahead of 2023.
“That is the intent of BFR, to make people excited about the future,” Musk said from the stage in the SpaceX hangar.
But before history is made the BFR needs to be constructed. The gargantuan spacecraft is currently in development at a shipyard near the southwester part of Los Angeles’ Terminal Island, which SpaceX leased as manufacturing ground for the rocket in March. BFR is expected to be 387 feet tall (118 meters), SpaceX’s largest rocket of all time, 157 feet taller than the Falcon Heavy and be twice as powerful.
The design of the rocket has been changed slightly since its concept was debuted in 2016, explained Musk. He detailed that the vehicle will be capable of transporting a payload weight “100 metric tons” from Earth to the surface of Mars. The ultimate goal will be to enable it to carry this amount of weight anywhere in the solar system with the help of “propellant depots” that will be established in deep space.
“The way it operates is more like a skydiver than an aircraft. The whole time it is entering, it is just trying to brake. It is just trying to stop,” he explained “This will look really epic in person, guaranteed to be exciting.”
Musk has estimated that the BFR could be prepared for an uncrewed mission in 2022. If the vehicle passes its unpiloted tests, Maezawa could be one of the first people to ride it into space.
Points on the SpaceX Moon Trip Timeline:
- September 14, 2018: SpaceX Teases Announcement About Private Moon Trip
- February 7, 2018: SpaceX Refocuses Development on BFR Instead of Falcon Heavy
- February 27, 2017: SpaceX Announces It Will Fly Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
- February 26, 2017: Elon Musk Teases a “SpaceX Announcement”