Elon Musk names Japanese billionaire for around-the-moon space trip

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Japanese CEO and Entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa is the lucky passenger who will be the first person to trip to the moon.

Musk's vision of an interplanetary future may be somewhere in between dreams and delusion, but at the very least he has helped inspire a new generation of enthusiasts, the way the Apollo era did in the 1960s. Whoever the mystery passenger is will be among the first space tourists to fly with a commercial company. Over the past two decades, the South African-born American entrepreneur has emerged as one of Silicon Valley's most recognized faces worldwide.

Looping a human around the moon is just the first stage of a plan that is targeted on the moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond. The company has said it wants to launch its Mars-bound cargo flight in 2022, followed by the first Mars flight with passengers in 2024. Twelve walked on the lunar surface.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says Maezawa will fly to the moon aboard a new rocket called the BFR, which is still in development.

Musk previously described the BFR as the company's largest and most powerful rocket - exceeding the Falcon 9 - a launch vehicle tailored for crewed missions into orbit. Musk said houses equipped with Tesla's Solar Roof would feed energy to Powerwall, a sleek storage unit created to act as an electricity fill-up station for both the house and a Tesla electric auto.

Who will fly with the mystery passenger is among the many questions that Musk is likely to address during the announcement.

It's not the same mission SpaceX founder Elon Musk outlined a year ago.

The response tweet sent Musk's fanbase into a myriad of speculations.

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He had said that the trip would happen this year and would not involve a landing, but rather a long loop around the moon.

The company is still developing the BFR rocket, which will be the successor to SpaceX's oft-used Falcon 9 rocket and its upgraded version, the Falcon Heavy.

The BFR name may also change, Musk said.

The BFR spacecraft's shape is reminiscent of the space shuttle, the bus-like USA spaceships that carried astronauts to space 135 times from 1981 to 2011.

But the unveiling, in the shadow of the engines of two massive and gleaming rockets, was also a testament to Musk's belief in making humans a multi-planet species.

SpaceX has been an undoubted success story in the private space race.

Virgin's trip will cost about $250,000.

The era of space tourism began in 2001 when California businessman Dennis Tito paid for a journey on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station. SpaceX hasn't yet launched any humans into space, though it has spent years working toward that goal.