Elon Musk, founder, CEO, and lead designer of the rocket company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the first private space traveller to fly around the moon will be a Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire.
Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and CEO of online fashion retailer Zozo, says he had bought all the seats on the first crewed flight of SpaceX’s new Big Falcon Rocket, which is being designed to colonise Mars.
The former drummer in a punk band is tentatively planning to make his moon flight in 2023.
He plans to select six to eight artists to accompany him on the journey, although they have not yet been selected.
His identity was revealed at an event on Monday evening at SpaceX’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.
“He’s a very brave person to do this,” Musk said of the Japanese entrepreneur.
Maezawa, 42, who is the 18th richest person in Japan, is a keen art collector.
He says the artists on the rocket will be part of a project called #dearmoon, which will involve them creating work inspired by their lunar journey.
It is unclear exactly how much the moon’s first space tourist has paid for the seats on the lunar flight, although Musk says Maezawa is “paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster”.
“He’s ultimately paying for the average citizen to travel to other planets,” says Musk, who is also CEO of the electric car maker, Tesla.
Here’s what we know about the man who could be part of the space travel revolution.
Maezawa was born in Japan’s eastern Chiba prefecture in 1975.
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A post shared by Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yusaku2020) on Mar 16, 2018 at 3:44pm PDT
He formed an indie rock group called Switch Style, which released an EP in 1995.
He adopted the stage name YOU X SUCK and played the drums in the band.
Maezawa also had a passion for collecting CDs and records, and launched a CD and record mail-order business in 1995.
He says he decided early on that he did not want to become a white-collar worker in Japan “after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes”.
In 1998, he launched a company called Start Today.
Maezawa owns about 38 per cent of Start Today, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The firm’s market capitalisation – the market value of all of the shares of a publicly trade company that have been authorised, issued and bought and held by investors – was US$7.2 billion as of July 2017.
After announcing a hiatus from music, his company moved to an online platform and then began selling clothing.
His companies, include the hugely popular online clothing website Zozotown and Wear, which are among Japan’s largest.
Maezawa introduced his customised clothing brand, Zozo, which sends customers an at-home measurement system called the Zozosuit, in July.
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採寸ボディースーツ「ZOZOSUIT」を無料配布します。ZOZOTOWNにて予約開始。一瞬であなたの体型を採寸できます。プライベートブランドでの活用はもちろん、ZOZOTOWNでのお買い物も圧倒的に便利に。川上から川下まで、ボディーデータ利用でファッション産業を新次元に導きます。 ZOZOSUITは、街頭やコラボ企業経由等、圧倒的な速度で世界中で無料で配りまくり、体重計や体温計のように一家に一台の存在にします。そして、世界中のお客様の体型を最も知り尽くした企業となり、そのデータを元に一人一人にピッタリの服を提供する、世界でも類を見ないファッション企業を目指します。 http://zozo.jp/zozosuit I’m happy to announce the ZOZOSUIT, a revolutionary new device that can accurately measure your body for perfect fitting clothes. Preorder now!! http://zozosuit.com #ZOZOSUIT #ZOZOTOWN
A post shared by Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yusaku2020) on Nov 21, 2017 at 7:18pm PST
The service captures a 3D measurement of the customer’s body and delivers bespoke clothing.
The service is now available in more than 72 countries and territories.
Maezawa is also an avid art collector.
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I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece. When I first encountered this painting, I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible. バスキア落札しました。アートを好きになってよかった。このペインティングをはじめて見た時、心からそう思いました。みなさんにも見てもらえる機会を作れたらいいなと思っています。 #jeanmichelbasquiat #basquiat #バスキア #ありがとう @sothebys
A post shared by Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yusaku2020) on May 18, 2017 at 5:33pm PDT
He owns an impressive collection of works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Prince and Jeff Koons.
In May 2017, Maezawa broke records by paying US$110.5 million for a 1982 painting by the late American graffiti and street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, called Untitled (pictured above with Maezawa) – the largest amount ever paid at auction for a work by a US artist.
“I am happy to announce that I just won this masterpiece,” he wrote on Instagram at the time.
“When I first encountered this painting I was struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art. I want to share that experience with as many people as possible.”
Maezawa says he was inspired to bring artists with him on the space flight space after thinking about the art that Basquiat might have created had he flown through space.
“One day when I was staring at his painting, I thought, ‘What if Basquiat had gone to space and had seen the moon – what wonderful masterpiece would he have created?’,” Maezawa says.
His net worth is estimated to be worth about US$3 billion and he is well connected in the tech world.
He is preparing to embark on one of the most elaborate space missions to date.
Musk says Maezawa’s desire to take part in – and pay for this trip – has restored his faith in humanity.
“This is going to be dangerous,” Musk says of the mission. “This is no walk in the park.
“It’s not 100 per cent certain that we succeed in getting this to flight ... But we’re going to do everything humanly possible to bring it to flight as fast as we can and as safely as we can.”
Additional reporting by Reuters
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.