Elon Musk unveils first tourist for SpaceX 'Moon loop'

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Maezawa, a 42-year-old art collector and entrepreneur who founded Japan's largest online fashion retailer, could be the first private passenger to make the trip around the moon.

Musk's vision of an interplanetary future may be somewhere in between dreams and delusion, but at the very least he has helped inspire a new generation of enthusiasts, the way the Apollo era did in the 1960s. He has accused, without proof, one of the cave divers who participated in the rescue of a Thai youth football team of being a paedophile.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed him to the world on Monday night after days of speculation about who the passenger might be.

In an interview in March, Musk said the ship was now being built, adding "I think we'll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year". Two years later would mark the last time NASA astronauts would visit the lunar surface. After launch, the BFR will make several course corrections and complete one loop around the moon before returning to Earth, where it will land upright, in a manoeuvre SpaceX has pioneered with its Falcon 9 rockets. He paid an unspecified amount of money for the privilege.

Whether the bold mission takes place now depends on SpaceX successfully testing the rockets and other equipment in the coming years. He hasn't revealed who he's going to invite, but it'll be fascinating to see who he has in mind, and even more interesting to find out who does or doesn't take him up on the offer of a free trip to the moon.

Musk outlined a somewhat different SpaceX lunar mission a year ago.

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The response tweet sent Musk's fanbase into a myriad of speculations.

The company is still developing the BFR rocket, which will be the successor to SpaceX's oft-used Falcon 9 rocket and its upgraded version, the Falcon Heavy. The spacecraft is meant to buzz around the moon without landing.

While the BFR has not been built yet, Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.

SpaceX has already contributed to space ventures by privately developing a liquid-fuel launch vehicle that orbited the Earth in 2008.

SpaceX isn't the only company looking to turn space tourism into a booming business.

Those comments add additional color to the updated narrative gradually trickling out of SpaceX as the company pushes towards a finalized "flight design" for the Mars-bound launch vehicle and spaceship, a critical step that must precede integrated design reviews and flight tests.

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