‘Maybe we’ll both be on it’: Elon Musk said he’d consider flying around the moon in a giant SpaceX ship with a Japanese billionaire and a crew of artists

Elon Musk Getty Images
  • Elon Musk, founder of the rocket company SpaceX, announced on Monday that Yusaku Maezawa is slated to become the first private passenger on a voyage to the moon.
  • Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and art collector, purchased all the seats on SpaceX’s first lunar mission – an investment that’s helping fund the development of a giant new launch system called Big Falcon Rocket.
  • Up to eight artists may join Maezawa on the roughly week-long “#dearMoon” mission.
  • However, Maezawa has also invited Musk himself to go. Musk hasn’t said no, but “maybe.”

LOS ANGELES, California – Inside SpaceX’s cavernous rocket factory on Monday night, Elon Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and art collector, is funding a private mission around the moon for himself and eight artists.

What’s more, there may be a slim chance Musk will join Maezawa on his lunar voyage.

SpaceX’s first moon mission is slated to launch in 2023 aboard the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR: a 38-story-tall rocket and spaceship system that engineers are currently prototyping in a tent at the Port of Los Angeles.

Maezawa purchased all of the seats on the BFR’s spaceship for untold millions, and he plans to invite a group of diverse artists to fly on a circumlunar mission, as part of a project he’s calling #dearMoon.

Spacex moon mission big falcon rocket spaceship bfr bfs illustration
SpaceX’s rendering of a Big Falcon Rocket spaceship carrying a passenger around the moon. SpaceX/Twitter

Tentative plans show the flight lasting about six days and bringing the BFR’s building-size spaceship within dozens of miles of the lunar surface (but not landing on it).

SpaceX has been in talks about the moon mission with Maezawa since at least 2017, though the previous plan called for flying in a much smaller Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon Heavy rocket.

BFR is dramatically larger, more powerful, and highly ambitious; Musk ultimately hopes to use the system to colonize Mars.

If the #dearMoon mission is successful – Musk described it as “very dangerous” and “no walk in the park” – Maezawa and his Bohemian crew could become the first-ever lunar tourists, as well as the first people to visit the moon since NASA’s Apollo astronauts left it in 1972.

Will Elon Musk fly to the moon with a bunch of artists?

SpaceX Yusaku Maezawa

After Musk introduced Maezawa and presented information about the mission and the BFR system, reporters in the room peppered the two men with questions.

“What does that make you think about going to space, and when do you think that is going to happen?” Michael Sheetz, a reporter for CNBC, askedMusk.

“This has done a lot to restore my faith in humanity, that somebody is willing to do this,” Musk said. “To take their money and help fund this project that’s risky, might not succeed. It’s dangerous, and he’s donating seats – these are great things. It’s done a lot to restore my faith in humanity.”

But then Musk seemed to realise that the question was about whether he himself was ready to become a space tourist.

“As far as me going? I’m not sure. He did suggest that maybe I would join on this trip,” Musk said of Maezawa. “I don’t know.”

But Maezawa enthusiastically interrupted Musk.

“Oh yeah, yeah – please, please,” Maezawa said.

“Alright. Maybe we’ll both be on it,” Musk responded, though it was hard to tell if he was serious or not.

SpaceX BFR
A rendering of what a lunar tourism trip on the BFR might one day look like. SpaceX

Musk told Business Insider during the press conference that SpaceX still only has “some concepts” for the interior design of the BFR’s spaceship and its crew quarters. But he added that a week-long lunar voyage (instead of a six-month slog to Mars) leaves ample room for backup life support – and fun.

“What is the most fun you can have in zero G?” Musk said of the interior design plans. “We’ll do that.”

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