SpaceX to name first passenger for round-the-moon flight Monday

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Japanese billionaire clothing retailer Yusaku Maezawa was introduced Monday as the passenger on a planned private trip around the moon on a spacecraft designed by Hawthorne-based aerospace company SpaceX.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is hours away from announcing who will be the first human to fly around the moon in his company's Big Falcon Rocket.

"I did not want to have such a fantastic experience by myself", said Mr Maezawa, wearing a blue sports jacket over a white T-shirt with printed with a work by the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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The rocket itself is not yet built and Musk said that the mission was "not 100pc certain".

An art lover with a vision, the Japanese entrepreneur has chose to not just buy a seat on the rocket, but every seat available-in fact he's already made a down payment that will help with BFR development costs. Musk has said he aims to use the SpaceX rocket, not only for this trip to the moon but one day to make humans a "multi-planetary" species by colonising the moon and mars.

"Lasting about a week, the journey will come as close as 125 miles to the Moon's surface", SpaceX tweeted, "before completing lunar transit and returning back to Earth".

SpaceX had previously announced in 2017 that two then-unnamed passengers had booked passage for a Lunar flyby in a Falcon Heavy rocket that was to launch in 2018.

It's been a long time since anyone has visited the moon - in fact, the last visit was 1972, more than 45 years ago.

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Will they be landing on the Moon?

The space agency is planning its own lunar flyby with a crew around 2023.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk outlined a somewhat different mission a year ago.

No guidance has been given on when the moon flight could happen.

It was designed with the objective of exploring Mars with the ultimate goal of colonising the planet.

SpaceX, which has received billions in NASA funding for parts of their development, hopes to be the first private company to send astronauts to the space station.

Musk's successes have recently been overshadowed by his behavior and the struggles of his Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver. The entrepreneur drew widespread condemnation after baselessly calling a British diver involved in the rescue of a trapped Thai soccer team a "pedo guy" in July. Last month he told the New York Times he was overwhelmed by job stress.

Earlier on Monday it emerged Mr Musk was being sued for defamation over his repeated claims that a British cave diver was a child abuser.