SpaceX will fly a Japanese billionaire (and artists, too!) around the Moon in 2023

By Mike Wall
September 18, 2018, 10:18:49 AM EDT

A Japanese billionaire and a coterie of artists will visit the moon as early as 2023, becoming the first private citizens ever to fly beyond low Earth orbit, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced tonight.

Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of Japanese e-commerce giant Zozo, has signed up to fly a round-the-moon mission aboard SpaceX's BFR spaceship-rocket combo, he and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced during a webcast tonight (Sept. 17) from the company's rocket factory in Hawthorne, California.

The mission — which will loop around, but not land on, the moon — could be ready to launch in just five years, Musk said.


An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket launching into space. SpaceX will launch Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa on the first private passenger flight around the moon, possibly in 2023.Credit: SpaceX

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon," Maezawa said. "Just staring at the moon fueled my imagination; it's always there and has continued to inspire humanity. That is why I do not pass up this opportunity to see the moon up close."

Maezawa won't go alone. He said he will choose six to eight artists, from painters and sculptors to fashion designers and architects, to share the experience with him — and, ultimately, with all of us. The artwork that results from this weeklong "#dearMoon" mission "will inspire the dreamer inside all of us," said Maezawa, who is an avid art collector. He's launched a website ( just for the project.

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