Yusaku Maezawa e Elon Musk. Crédito: Divulgação/Yusaku Maezawa

First private flight to moon will have billionaire and artists as crew

According to SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, Yusaku Maezawa is the first paying passenger of the company's blast-off trip to the Moon; the Japanese will invite eight artists to the journey to encourage their creativeness

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, 42 years old, is the first confirmed passenger in the inaugural flight around the Moon. Maezawa's choice for the trip was announced by Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, a space rocket-producing company that will make travel feasible. The blast off from earth will be in 2023. During the event, Maezawa announced himself as the number one passenger of the lunar mission and also launched the art project #dearMoon. "I chose to go to the moon with artists," the Japanese said during the press conference about the journey. He will take up to eight artists with him to the moon.

Maezawa has already announced that he intends to include, in the crew, artists from many different fields such as painters, musicians, film directors, dancers, fashion designers, sculptors, photographers, and architects. The plan is for the art that his all-artist crew creates en route to the moon to be part of a massive exhibition and celebration upon their return; he’s calling the project #dearMoon. The billionaire published the following declaration:

“If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the moon up-close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn?  If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written? If they had gone to space, how would the world have looked today? People are creative and have a great imagination.  We all have the ability to dream dreams that have never been dreamt, to sing songs that have never been sung, to paint whatever has never been seen before. I hope this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us.”

Who is Yusaku Maezawa?

After a long visit to the United States in 1998, Maezawa launched Start Today, a mail-order company for vinyl, CDs and concert memorabilia.  Start Today has grown and, after 6 years, Maezawa launched Zozotown, an online fashion retail. Today, Maezawa is worth $12 billion and his personal net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion, according to Forbes.

Yusaku Maezawa is the 18th-richest person in Japan and one of the most important fashionistas of the world. Maezawa also loves art! He spent $110.5 million on a Jean-Michel Basquiat skull painting called "Untitled".

What are SpaceX's plans to take man to the moon?

In February 2017, Elon Musk said he had chosen the first two private citizens to travel to the Moon aboard a SpaceX rocket, but did not reveal their names. Maezawa was revealed in September, while the second passenger name is still undisclosed. At the time, the SpaceX CEO said that the two chosen ones had already "deposited a significant amount" of money to secure their seats and now he reinforced that the Japanese investment "has great effect on the project’s cost and development." According to American website Vox, the company estimates to spend around $5 billion to complete it.

SpaceX was founded with one main goal: to cheapen space travel. With the technological advances it has created, the company estimates that each launch costs about $90 million. It seems like a lot of money - and it is -, but in the space exploration world, that's an extremely competitive value. NASA, for example, spent about $1 billion on each launch of its former space shuttle, now retired.

Today, the flagship of SpaceX's space program is the Falcon Heavy rocket, first sent to space on February 6th, 2018. It is the most powerful rocket produced since the NASA's Saturn 5 launch that took man to the moon 45 years ago. The Falcon Heavy is also the most powerful rocket ever produced by a civil company. It is composed of three parts: in the middle, the 70-meters high rocket where the capsule that carries the load is located, and two more powerful propellants, one on each side. Its 27 engines can lead the spacecraft to a maximum speed of more than 26,600 km/h.

But the company led by Musk wants more and is developing an even bigger and more powerful rocket, the Big Freaking Rocket (BFR). It will be on this ship that Maezawa and his artists will travel to the moon.  If things go well, the schedule announced by Musk predicts that in six years, in addition to getting men on the moon, SpaceX intends to use the BFR to send people to Mars.