SpaceX, the space transportation firm of Elon Musk, announced on Monday that a Japanese entrepreneur will be the first private passenger to travel to the moon.
Yusaku Maezawa, 42, who runs the Japanese online clothing shopping site Zozotown, is set to travel on the Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, which is currently being developed, the U.S. space company said.
The trip scheduled for 2023 will mark the first time a human has been sent to the moon since the U.S. Apollo program ended in 1972.
Maezawa said at the SpaceX headquarters in California that he will invite six to eight world-renowned artists to join him on a weeklong flight orbiting the moon.
“Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the moon” with artists, Maezawa said. “Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon. It’s always there and continues to inspire humanity.”
His company Start Today Co. said the art project “#dearMoon” will see the participating artists create works inspired by their time in space.
The entrepreneur said he expects the participants will include painters, sculptors, photographers and architects. He declined to reveal the cost of the trip.
The BFR is a super heavy-lift launch vehicle that will eventually shuttle passengers to the moon and fly humans and cargo to Mars.
The plan is to ready it for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024. It is also envisioned that the next-generation rocket will whisk travelers between cities at super-speed.
SpaceX has already contributed to space ventures by privately developing a liquid-fuel launch vehicle that orbited the Earth in 2008. It has contracts with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station.
Musk is also the chief executive of the electric car maker Tesla Inc.