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Elon Musk reveals who will be the first private passenger on round-the-moon flight

Elon Musk announced Monday that Japanese billionaire businessman, online fashion tycoon and art collector Yusaku Maezawa will be the first tourist to fly on a SpaceX rocket around the moon in 2023. (David McNew/AFP/Getty Images)

It's been more than four decades since Apollo 17 returned from its trip to the moon and no man has been there since. Now SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to send someone around the moon in 2023.

Musk revealed Monday night that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa would become the first private passenger to make the around-the-moon trip on the Big Falcon Rocket launch vehicle, Mashable reported.

The announcement, which was teased on Twitter last week, came during a celebratory event at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Who is Maezawa?

Maezawa, a fashion tycoon and founder of ZoZotown, Japan's largest online fashion mall, purchased all of the seats for the future space mission.

"Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon," Maezawa said, according to Mashable. "Just staring at the moon, it filled my imagination."

The 42-year-old art collector said he plans to bring six to eights artists from around the world to tag along with him on the weeklong trip to the moon.

"They will be asked to create something after they return to Earth. These masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us," Maezawa told reporters, BBC News reported

The rocket's passengers will not be landing on the moon during the mission. The trip will be what's called a "free return trajectory" meaning the spacecraft will travel around the far side of the moon and back to earth.

What will the mission cost?

The estimated cost for getting the Big Falcon Rocket off the ground is about $5 billion, but it's unclear how much money Maezawa has invested into the project to secure his seat on the mission.

"This has done a lot to restore my faith in humanity — that somebody's willing to do this," Musk said. "He is ultimately helping to pay for the average citizen to be able to travel to other planets. It's a great thing."

SpaceX has invested nearly $1 billion into the massive rocket that's expected to be 387 feet tall, according to the latest design update.

Musk, who tweeted a photo of himself and Maezawa before the reveal, issued a caution about the lunar trip since the rocket is still in development.

"It's not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight," Musk told the crowd.

Will Musk be on the flight?

Near the end of the event, Musk was asked if he would be aboard the flight to the moon with Maezawa.

"He did suggest, like, maybe that I would join on this trip," Musk responded with a laugh, Space.com reported. "I don't know."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah — please, please." Maezawa said.

"All right," Musk replied. "Maybe we'll both be on it."

How many humans have traveled to the moon?

Twenty-four humans have been to the moon and only 12 have landed on the moon — all were Americans. NASA's Apollo 17 was the last mission to the moon in December 1972.

What else?

On Monday, it was revealed that British cave diver Vernon Unsworth filed a defamation lawsuit against Musk, who accused the diver of being a "child rapist," the BBC reported.

In July, Unsworth helped rescue the Thai teenagers from a flooded cave. He is seeking $75,000 and an injunction against further accusations.

Musk, who also founded Tesla, made headlines last month when he shocked investors with a tweet about wanting to take the electric car company private.

Last week, the billionaire grabbed more controversial attention after he fired up a joint during a podcast with Joe Rogan.

One last thing…
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