SpaceX’s First Passenger Around Moon Will Be Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa

SpaceX Dragon Mock-Up.
David McNew / Getty Images

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire famous for his business acumen, will become the first private tourist to fly around the moon using SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket. SpaceX made this announcement in a series of Twitter posts Monday.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk added that Maezawa will bring eight people with him with the rocket blasts off in 2023.

SpaceX said that the entire trip will last about a week in a Twitter post, as the rocket will come as close as 125 miles to the moon’s surface before completing lunar transit and returning back to Earth. It will be the closest humans have come to the moon since the U.S ended its explorations in 1972, the space company noted.

Maezawa shared his excitement about the announcement in a series of tweets.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon,” Maezawa said, according to CNBC. “It’s always there and continues to inspire humanity.”

According to CNBC, Maezawa is one of the richest men in Japan — making his billions as the founder of Internet retailers Start Today and Zozotown. According to Forbes, Maezawa is a self-made billionaire, getting his start by selling CDs and records of his favorite bands by mail from his home.

Today, along with hitching space rides, he collects modern art and plans to build a museum in Chiba, Japan, Forbes wrote. The magazine said that he bought paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso worth about $80 million in 2016.

SpaceX had previously announced last year that it was planning on sending two people around the moon. Earlier this year, the company announced that it could send more, using the Falcon Heavy rocket instead of the Crew Dragon capsule, CNBC wrote.

The Falcon Heavy, BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) for short, can carry dozens of people into space and will have the ability to take off and land — much like the Falcon 9 does when it sends satellites into space and payloads to the International Space Station, noted CNBC.

In this handout photo provided by SpaceX Feb. 8, a Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named Starman heads towards Mars. SpaceX / paceX via Getty Images

“I choose to go to the moon with artists,” Maezawa said, according to CNBC. “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.”

CNBC said that Maezawa had been teasing his Twitter followers about the trip last month. The network said he was at the Kennedy Space Center to watch the original flight of the Falcon Heavy.

National Public Radio said that Musk did not reveal how much Maezawa paid for the roundtrip moon ticket. Musk did add that Maezawa approached him about the trip’s possibility and that the funds could help in the development of the rocket. It is said to be the world’s most powerful and could take astronauts to Mars one day.