Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, recently announced that the first passenger on a private space flight to the moon will be Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire who is an art collector and rock musician.
According to Musk, the mission will be an important step towards enabling access to the average person who wants to travel to space.
Musk’s plans to fly private passengers to the moon should not be confused with plans by Virgin Galactic because Musk has bigger plans for SpaceX. On the 16th of September, he shared a photo of the massive rocket that will be used for the mission with the hashtag #OccupyMars.
The rocket, known as the Big Falcon Rocket, could be ready for flight by 2023. SpaceX has had 60 successful blasts offs so far but more work is needed to get the BFR and the Falcon Heavy (SpaceX’s other rocket) airworthy.
Here’s what we know about the BFR so far
Earlier in 2018, the Falcon Heavy rocket managed a successful take off. It orbited the Earth with a Tesla car as its only passenger. Although it was a bumpy landing, it completed its in-space manoeuvres. While this seems like big news to many, it’s not for Elon Musk.
He has grander plans to focus on the BFR and get it ready by 2023. This is a privately-funded next-gen spacecraft system.
Not a lot is known about the BFR, but we do know that it’s 350 ft. with a 10.8 million pound thrust, which is bigger than any NASA rocket. It is a reusable design with a deploying and docking system that will allow the rocket to make the continuous trip to and from Mars, just like any commercial flight.
Elon Musk’s love of science fiction and fantasy is on full display in SpaceX’s latest design. The 2017 design is 9-meter diameter technology. The spaceship looks like the Tintin vehicle used to fly to the moon in one of Tintin’s comic books. Musk says this is not a coincidence. He loves the Tintin rocket design and was biased towards it for the BFR.
During the introduction of Yusaku Maezawa, Musk said he felt the newer design was similar to the old one, albeit better and with riskier technology due to the actuating wing-fin flaps and the coupling legs.
How much will space flights cost?
You don’t have to be crazy to fly to space, just rich. Yusaku Maezawa owns Japan’s biggest fashion retail website, Zozotown, and he is the 18th richest person in Japan with a net worth of $2.9 billion.
Neither Musk not Maezawa disclosed the amount he is paying for the “dream flight” but it is believed to cost up to a $10m because Maezewa is paying for the flight fares of 8 artists who will create artwork that depicts their time in space. He hasn’t chosen the artists yet but says they will include musicians, painters, fashion designers and film directors.
Inter-galactic research has paved the way for commercially-designed space vehicles that will enable non-space professionals to enjoy the experience of a space holiday.
Here are the costs for some of the space airlines:
Orion Span – The Aurora Station is billed as the first luxury space hotel with construction expected to begin in 2021. It will have two private suites and guests will undergo training prior to the trip. Each guest will pay $9.5 million for a 12-day mission
Virgin Galactic – Aims to take tourists on flights aboard its SpaceShipTwo. It plans to take people to the edge of space and it isn’t designed for long-duration missions. Seats will cost $250,000.
There is still so much work to be done before any spacecraft will be ready to transport private passengers on space missions. Wealthy people who can afford the exorbitant prices will have a few days or months of training first. Whether passengers will be able to handle the psychological stress of space travel remains to be seen.