Update: SpaceX revealed Monday that Yusaku Maezawa, a 42-year-old Japanese tech entrepreneur, will be the first man to travel around the moon on its Big Falcon Rocket. The trip is planned for 2023, and Maezawa said he'd invite eight artists from around the world to join him.
Take out your checkbook--SpaceX is booking trips to the moon.
Elon Musk's space exploration company announced in a tweet on Thursday that it has signed "the world's first private passenger" to fly around the moon, though it did not provide a timetable. SpaceX said it plans to use its largest rocket--dubbed BFR, or "big Falcon rocket"--for the trip, which is still under development and might need a couple of years before it can make an initial test flight, The Wall Street Journal reports. More details about the mystery space tourist will be provided on Monday, SpaceX added.
It is not the first time SpaceX has announced plans to send private citizens to space. In February last year, it claimed two people had "already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission" in late 2018. The plan for lunar tourism was postponed until at least mid-2019 or longer, a spokesperson told WSJ in June. It's unclear if the person who will be revealed on Monday is one of them.
The business of space tourism and exploration has been a breeding ground for entrepreneurs. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos's space venture, has plans to start selling tickets for suborbital space trips in 2019, with tickets expected to cost more than $200,000. Sir Richard Branson, the daredevil founder behind Virgin Galactic, said in May his company was "two or three more flights" away from its first commercial suborbital trip. Virgin Galactic already has a long waiting list, with hundreds of paying customers spending $250,000 on a ticket.