By Chris Ciaccia, ,
Published September 17, 2018
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced Monday night that entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa would be the first private person to fly solo around the moon aboard the company's Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) launch vehicle.
Maezawa, a 42-year-old from Japan, is a billionaire who founded Zozotown, an online retail shop. The excited future space traveler exclaimed at the event, "I choose to go to the moon."
He said the trip will take place in 2023, giving him plenty of time to prepare.
Prior to the announcement on Monday, Musk took to Twitter to show off two new images of the BFR.
The images of the BFR show a rocket with fins on the side. It also has a forward moving wing near the nose, Musk wrote on Twitter.
The event was held at the company's Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters, conveniently located next to a design shop for Tesla, Musk's other company.
The Musk-led space company called the announcement "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space."
The BFR is SpaceX's upcoming two-stage reusable spaceship system that will weigh 9.7 million pounds and be capable of taking a 330,000 pound payload to Mars and lower-Earth orbit (LEO), officials say. The BFR, announced in September 2017, eventually will replace SpaceX's other launch vehicles, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, as well as its Dragon spacecraft.
In April, Musk posted a picture to Instagram (since removed) of what he described as the “main body tool” for his company’s BFR interplanetary spaceship.
In an interview in March, Musk said the ship was currently being built, adding "I think we'll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year."
Shortly after his successful Falcon Heavy Launch, Musk said he expected a “full-scale test” of the massive rocket within the next few years.
Musk described a slightly scaled-down 348-foot-tall rocket in September 2017 and announced that the private space company aimed to launch two cargo missions to Mars in 2022. He called the goals at the time “aspirational.”
Two more cargo missions are set to follow in 2024 to provide more construction materials, along with two crewed flights, according to earlier reports. The window for launching to Mars occurs every two years.
Fox News' Nicole Darrah and Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia.