SpaceX plans to livestream moon mission in VR

What you need to know about the first tourist that SpaceX is taking around the moon

Japanese billionaire to be sent to moon by SpaceX says he'll bring along architects and other artists

Elon Musk has revealed Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the potential first passenger to be launched to the moon by Musk's private aerospace company, SpaceX.

Most famous outside Japan for his record-breaking $110 million purchase of an untitled 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Maezawa said he would invite six to eight artists to join him on the lunar flyby.

The trip is expected to take off in 2023 using the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket, the most powerful rocket flying today. The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 238,000 miles.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut traveled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon", the business tycoon said in a news conference held Monday evening at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

Mr Maezawa made headlines past year after paying $110.5m for a painting by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at an auction in NY.

His current net worth is about $2.3 billion. I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us.

Musk would not say what the trip would cost, but did say that the design of the almost 400-foot tall rocket had evolved recently, with the first flights to orbit coming in two to three years.

Michael Markowsky said his practice as an artist is all about working in extreme conditions - whether it's painting in -40 C in the far north or travelling at close to twice the speed of sound in a fighter jet.

Maezawa is a rarity in Japan: a billionaire who shuns suits and encourages his employees to have fun.

Why does he want to go to the moon?

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"If I'm going to go to space, I'd rather go as far as I can", he said.

The first space tourist was Dennis Tito, an American businessman who in 2001 paid some $20 million to fly on a Russian spaceship to the International Space Station.

"I know that sounds insane, and we don't usually meet our time lines, but I wanted you to know at least order of magnitude, that's what we're thinking", Shotwell said.

"It's not 100 per cent certain we can bring this to flight", Mr Musk said of the lunar mission.

Its plan to fly tourists around the moon has also been delayed.

In 2017, Mr Musk announced that he would be sending two paying passengers on a loop around the Moon - which was to have launched as early as this year.

Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.

Musk showed off designs for the 118-metre long BFR, which will consist of a first stage with engines and fuel systems, and a second stage with the spacecraft where the passengers will ride.

SpaceX said it has signed the first private moon traveler, with some changes to its original game plan.

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behavior and the struggles of his Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver.

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