SpaceX Announces First Private Citizen on Moon Mission

Humans last traveled to the moon in 1972.

By the year 2023, they will return, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

It won't be a landing, but it will be a return to deep space, he said.

The next human to orbit the moon will be making the history books for two reasons: that person will be the first person to go to Earth's natural satellite in a commercially-designed and built spacecraft ... and they'll be the first person to travel as a private citizen, going first-class.

That person is  Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur and founder of the company Zozo, who was introduced Monday night by SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a live webcast.

If all goes according to plan, Maezawa will board a SpaceX BFR ... or Big Falcon Rocket ...  in 2023 and from there head to the moon and the history books.

But he won't be going alone. 

Maezawa, it turns out, bought all of the available seats on the BFR, and will be offering them to a cadre of artists to travel with him.

He said at a press conference that he wants between six and eight artists from fields as diverse as music, fashion, architecture, film and other arts to travel with him and create something based on their experience of traveling from the Earth to the moon ... under the auspices of the program Dear Moon.

He said he was doing this because he had been inspired by the moon, and wanted to inspire others with the works of these artists.

He added that he also wanted to give something back to the world, and this seemed like a good way to do it.

The trip won't be like the old Apollo missions, which landed astronauts on the moon.

With this flight, Maezawa and his companions will fly around the moon in a flight-proven BFR and coast back to Earth.

In any event, the flight will be a clear signal that human space travel has changed on a fundamental basis.

The announcement essentially opens cis-lunar space to a new breed of traveler, and is also a signal that SpaceX is utterly serious about its goal to make humanity a species that lives and works on many planets in this solar system.

Musk says the ultimate, long-range goal is to see humanity as a civilization that many star systems.

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