Elon Musk Introduces First Private Space Tourist

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Elon Musk Introduces First Private Space Tourist

Zachary Johnson, Writer

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On Tuesday night at 6:00 PM Pacific time, billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk held a press conference to introduce the world’s first private space tourist. First, though, Musk took a few minutes to explain the ten-year history of SpaceX and the importance of their new rocket, the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket). BFR, standing at 118m tall, is quite different than the Falcon 9’s before it. Unlike its predecessors, BFR can take a far heavier payload, with a possible 100 metric tonnes to the surface of Mars, and features a ludicrous payload volume of 1000 meters cubed. Previously, the Falcon 9 Block 5 could only carry 22.8 tonnes to orbit, much less to Mars. BFR is also capable of carrying a maximum of 960 people to Mars (as few as 80 depending on the cabin configuration), whereas the Falcon rockets before it could only carry a maximum of seven in SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

After explaining the purpose of BFR, Elon finally introduced the world’s first private space tourist: Yusaku Maezawa. Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire and art collector. Maezawa introduced himself by highlighting his love for America in his youth, including his passion for skateboarding and drumming. Maezawa then introduced the conference attendees to his company, ZOZO, and announced that he had purchased the entire BFR payload. He stated that he would like to spend his trip to the Moon with artists. “I love art, and I’m looking forward to seeing what different artists together can bring to life. In principle, I would like to reach out to artists I love,” Maezawa stated. Maezawa called his project “#dearMoon.” The flight is scheduled to take Maezawa and six to eight artists around the Moon in 2023, and more information on the project can be found at dearmoon.earth.

“He is, I think, the bravest person and most willing to [take this journey]. He is the best adventurer, I think. He stepped forward to do it. To be clear, we’re honored he would choose us. This is him choosing us, not us choosing him. I’m glad to see this is something people are excited about,” Musk responded to a reporter when asked about Maezawa.

During the Q&A session after the announcement, Musk made it very clear that BFR and the dearMoon project weren’t exactly SpaceX’s top priority at the moment.

When asked about the percentage of SpaceX funding BFR currently occupies, Musk responded, “Still quite a small portion of SpaceX resources, less than 5%, are currently spent on BFR. That’ll change in the years to come, but our primary focus is transporting satellites. We’re focusing on this NASA crewed flight mission, Dragon 2. As we complete Crew Dragon, more resources will be diverted to BFR. It’s hard to say the development cost for BFR, roughly $5B. It’s tough to say, but it would be quite a low number for a project of this nature. I don’t think it’s more than ten (billion), or more than two (billion).” It is important to note, however, that $5 billion would be quite a low number to develop a spacecraft of this size and payload capacity. For comparison, the Space Launch System, or SLS for short, which is currently being developed by NASA and ULA, has already received $11 billion in funding before its first test flight.

Before closing out the night, Musk did note that the 2023 date isn’t totally set in stone. “We have to set some kind of ‘things go right’ date, and we have reality. Things don’t go right in reality. It’s not even 100% certain that we get this to flight,” Musk finished.


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