"They're not from Hollywood."
That's how Elon Musk initially described the initial, anonymous buyers of a trip to the Moon and back that had some similarities to Apollo 8. These buyers have apparently backed out since the announcement was made in 2017. However, SpaceX has lined up another buyer for a beefed-up trip around the Moon, who is also not from Hollywood.
On Monday, September 17, SpaceX revealed the identity of this customer, an entrepreneur named Yusaku Maezawa. Maezawa is the owner of the online fashion mall ZOZO and his wealth is estimated at nearly $3 billion. He plans to fill the total of eight seats on a spacecraft launched by SpaceX's BFR with artists and fashion designers. At the event announcing his identity, Maezawa said that the trip would be more enjoyable if shared.
He said of his decision to tap SpaceX for a ride to the Moon, “Ever since I was a kid, I have loved the moon … just staring at the moon filled my imagination … it’s continued to inspire humanity, and that’s why I could not pass up this opportunity to see the moon up close.”
Maezawa appears to believe that artists will be best equipped to express their experiences during the trip with new art creations. This would not even be the first time that astronauts expressed themselves with art. Alan Bean's website still has some of the pieces he painted after retiring as an astronaut available for sale. Don Pettit has also expressed himself with some poetry during National Poetry Month in 2012. It will be interesting to see what new artwork will be produced by professional artists who will have seen the Moon close-up.
And what does Elon Musk think of Maezawa and the artists who will take the risk on the BFR? He gave a possible hint when discussing the unnamed pair who backed out, saying that they were “entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk … They’re certainly not naive, and we’ll do everything we can to minimize that risk, but it’s not zero.”
Is the risk worth it? In an environment where NASA is willing to pay SpaceX for its commercial crew program but unwilling to fund the BFR, SpaceX seems content to extend its services to wealthy adventurers like Yusako Maezawa who believe that the risk is worth it for the sake of sending artists into space.
 

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