SpaceX set to identify first paying passenger for trip aroound the moon

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"I choose to go to the moon!" said the 42-year-old Maezawa, who founded Japan's largest online fashion mall and is worth nearly $3 billion. The company kicked off its announcement this evening, taking the wraps off its customer: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

The Moon is about 385,000 km away from Earth and the last time an astronaut travelled there was in 1972 as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

"My mission to go around the moon, as the first private passenger, will represent the imagination and curiosity of all people", Maezawa wrote on Instagram following the SpaceX announcement.

Musk introduced Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the worldwide custom-fit clothing company Zozo and an avid art collector, as the one who is investing in the spaceship project in order to take the trip, possibly in 2023.

Maezawa's moon flight is tentatively planned for 2023 aboard SpaceX's forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, according to Reuters.

Maezawa says he is not planning to make the lunar voyage alone, but will invite up to eight artists to journey with him.

The fashion tycoon says he intends to take along artists from around the world who will then create artworks based on the experience, to help "inspire the dreamer within each of us".

Forbes ranks Maezawa as the 18th richest person in Japan.

"This has done a lot to restore my faith in humanity - that somebody's willing to do this", Musk said.

The company has revealed little else about the trip, and it's anyone's guess when it might actually happen.

Elon Musk looked enthusiastic and excited at the event.

Mr Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024. It's unclear if Maezawa was one of those people.

Entrepreneur Elon Musk's space launch company said last week that the person will fly to the moon aboard a new rocket called the BFR, which is still in development.

The BFR, for Big Falcon Rocket, will make a single swing around the moon. It has contracts with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station.

The trip to the moon on the SpaceX rocket could take place as early as 2023.