SpaceX announced on Monday night that its first moonshot passenger will be Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire estimated by Forbes to be the 18th-richest person in Japan. He started Japanese e-commerce giant Start Today in 1998 and popular fashion marketplace Zozotown in 2004. "I choose to go to the moon with artists". He added he was excited, honored and grateful.
Maezawa also said he would invite six to eight artists from around the world to join him on the trip as a creative project.
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.
Next month brings the 50th anniversary of Apollo 7, which included the first live television broadcast from space, while December marks 50 years since Apollo 8, which was the first human mission to fly around the moon (without landing)-basically the same route Maezawa and his crew will take.
"I thought long and hard about how valuable it would be to the first private passenger to go to the moon". The company will use the extra space to store lots of food, water, fuel and spare parts, in case something goes wrong during the flight.
Maezawa inside SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket.
The 42-year-old Maezawa is one of Japan's most colorful executives and is a regular fixture in the country's gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.
The customer will fly on the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, a new spaceship system that SpaceX is building.
In typical fashion for any company owned by Elon Musk, they've chose to do so by blasting a single person - the world's first private passenger, around the moon and back to test the rocket's capability for far space travel.
"I hope that this project will inspire the dreamer within each of us", Maezawa wrote on the website for the project, #DearMoon. "This is no walk in the park", Musk said of the mission.
At the time, Musk said the pair approached SpaceX about sending them on a weeklong flight and paid a "significant" deposit for the trip.
Instead, Musk said, SpaceX would turn its focus to developing the BFR, which he deemed a better option for tourism missions.
The launch relies on a rocket yet to be built and Mr Musk himself said it was not "100% certain we can bring this to flight". The rocket isn't yet ready for the human space flight yet and work is on.