Elon Musk has announced the first private passenger has signed up to fly around the moon in SpaceX’s enormous Big Falcon Rocket (BFR).
Musk’s SpaceX hasn’t announced when the flight is going to happen, but we finally know who the mystery first passenger will be: Yusaku Maezawa, the billionaire founder of Japanese clothing company Zozo and former punk rocker.
“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go the moon,” Maezawa shouted at the announcement.
This isn’t the first time space tourists have put cash down on a moon trip. In February 2017, two unnamed tourists had reportedly put down deposits for the flight, set to take place in the first half of this year.
We’re still waiting for that trip to take place, though SpaceX hasn’t given any explanation for the delay. The setback didn’t come as a surprise to industry experts, who were initially sceptical about the ambitious timetable. The tourists are no doubt disappointed; the billionaire entrepreneur has certainly been emotive about the planned trips.
“Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration,” Musk said in 2017.
The 2017 tourists were supposed to take their trip in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, propelled by the Falcon Heavy rocket. The Falcon Heavy made its first flight from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida in February, while the Dragon vehicles make trips to the International Space Station (ISS) with people and supplies.
The Falcon Heavy has a lift-off thrust roughly equal to 18 jumbo jets at full power; it’s the biggest and most powerful rocket to have left Earth’s atmosphere, at 70m high and 12m wide.
A year ago, however, Musk announced that the Falcon Heavy would step aside so SpaceX could focus on the less expensive BFR A firs, and a first passenger has again stepped forward to occupy a seat. Musk’s new darling, the BFR, is 106m high and 9m wide.
While Tesla shares swing as Musk see-saws on claims he’s going to privatise, most of us are just refreshing our Twitter feeds, hanging out to find out more about the latest billionaire spaceship hopeful.