Elon Musk names Japanese billionaire for around-the-moon space trip

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Dear Elon Musk, where the hell is my Boring Not-a-Flamethrower?

Forbes estimates Maezawa is worth $2.9 billion, so he's got deep pockets to bankroll his art addiction and space ambitions.

The 42-year-old businessman (below), who made his fortune after launching an online fashion mall that became the largest in Japan, will make the journey aboard SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which is scheduled for testing next year.

Until now, Americans are the only ones who have left Earth's orbit.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the Moon", Maezawa said at SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory in Hawthorne, California, in the middle of metropolitan Los Angeles, late Monday. "But I didn't want such an experience by myself, i want to share these experiences with others".

"I didn't want to have such a fantastic experience by myself, he said".

"I choose to go to the moon with artists".

Still, doubt remains over whether or not Mr Maezawa and his art troupe will make it to orbit the moon.

The billionaire said he wondered what would've happened if famous artists, painters, creatives, and songwriters had experienced what he wanted to experience. In an interview to Forbes previous year, a passionate Maezawa said, "I'd like to emphasize in the construction (of the museum) that each work of art plays a leading role in the museum". "Just staring at the moon, it filled my imagination". The new design looks a bit like a streamlined, futuristic version of a NASA space shuttle. "What wonderful masterpiece would he have created?" he mused. His private collection also includes works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

The images of the BFR show a rocket with fins on the side.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut travelled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission. He considers himself an artist and hence has invited other artists as well to join him on the trip.

Musk has not revealed how much his "Lunar BFR Mission" will cost in the long run, but Maezawa surely won't have a hard time footing the bill.

'He stepped forward, ' Musk added.

Aerospace experts who follow Musk and SpaceX's activities suggest that there could likely be more iterations of the BFR design before the company's first lunar voyage lifts off the launch pad.

Musk says SpaceX has already built the first cylinder section of the BFR.

Of course, the craft is very far from completion and Musk has repeatedly set aspirational timelines for its development that never panned out, so this is all more or less conceptual. The BFR ship won't be making a stopover on the lunar surface, though. "That is the intent of BFR - to make people excited about the future".

The first BFR is now being built in a purpose-built warehouse in Florida. "That will change significantly in years to come", he said.