SpaceX has announced its first passenger for its private flight to the moon, Yusaka Maezawa, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Japanese online fashion retailer Zozo. Maezawa, who is also an art collector, said he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on his trip in 2023, according to Reuters.
“This is my lifelong dream. I choose to go to the moon,” Maezawa said Monday.
The announcement came shortly after SpaceX founder Elon Musk emphasized the need to begin colonizing other planets, at an event at the company’s headquarters and factory in Hawthorne, California.
“We should take action and become a multi-planet civilization as soon as possible,” Musk said, referring to the possibility of an event that could “end civilization.”
“He’s a very brave person to do this,” Musk said of Maezawa, calling the mission “dangerous” and noting that it’s possible the company won’t meet its own 2023 deadline.
Only 24 astronauts have journeyed beyond Earth’s magnetic field, all between 1968 and 1972.
Last year, SpaceX announced plans for a new spacecraft, the Big Falcon Rocket, which Musk has said would make it possible to build a base on the moon, eventually colonize Mars, and travel anywhere on Earth within an hour. He had said SpaceX will aim for an unmanned flight to the moon in 2022, and a manned mission to Mars two years later in 2024.
The amount Maezawa paid for the moon journey was not revealed at the event, but the fashion icon did tell Reuters that it cost much more than his notable $110 million purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, for which Maezawa is well known outside of Japan.
He said of his invitation for artists to join him:
“They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us.”
Musk has already revolutionized spaceflight by creating comparatively cheap, reusable rockets. The company has contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense. Recently, however, Musk has fueled controversy by smoking marijuana on a live web broadcast, as well as a series of inflammatory public statements mixed in with his ambitious promises of a new era of interplanetary travel.
In one recent message to Tesla employees, Musk said to ignore “a lot of fuss and noise in the media.”