Billionaire bringing guests to the moon

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

A Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, says he'll go.

Maezawa, an art lover and collector, said he will take six to eight artists with him.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon", Maezawa said at SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California, in the middle of metropolitan Los Angeles, late Monday.

He called Maezawa "brave" and "an adventurer".

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself, that would be a little lonely", he said. "This is no walk in the park", Musk cautioned. When you're pushing the frontier, it's not a sure thing. The company will use the extra space to store lots of food, water, fuel and spare parts, in case something goes wrong during the flight. Maezawa came to SpaceX with the idea for the group flight, Musk said.

In the past few months, Musk has lashed out at analysts during an earnings call for Tesla, his electric auto company, for asking "boring, bonehead questions".

"Until now, Americans are the only ones who have left Earth's orbit".

The British diver, Vernon Unsworth, sued Musk for defamation on Monday and is seeking more than $75,000. And earlier this month, a video of Musk smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey on a popular podcast circulated on social media. Twenty-four men flew to the moon from 1968 through 1972, and half of them made it to the lunar surface. One downside is that Musk's Big Falcon Rocket is not yet built. The craft created to ferry humans safely to and from the orbiting lab will take off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center in 2019.

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He said SpaceX has updated the design for the BFR rocket for the third time in three years.

The tourism announcement comes as the company is racing to meet a tight deadline to start flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station aboard its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Shotwell also said the full rocket could reach orbit for the first time in 2020 and possibly deliver cargo to the Moon or Mars in 2022.

So just who is this eccentric billionaire risking his life to be SpaceX's first space tourist?

Setbacks and delays, however, don't deter Musk or his relentless company, which has grown to 7,000 employees. The Japanese entrepreneur has purchased all the seats on SpaceX's first manned flight around the moon, though no date for the trip has been set. SpaceX has yet to disclose a launch date for rocket, which remains to be built. It also has a massive backlog of commercial launch contracts. "More flight-ready hardware reveals, and some test demonstrations would go a long way to proving their capabilities".

"All of that noise in the background, that is the sound of wonderful things happening", NASA astronaut Victor Glover said. I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us.

Musk has said he wants the BFR's vessel to be able to hold around 100 people, and that the launch system could one day be used to colonise the Moon and Mars in order to make humans a "multi-planetary" species. To make it seem like it's something we can do in our lifetimes.

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