SpaceX says it will fly private passenger 'around the Moon'

Enlarge Image Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa speaks about his moon mission through SpaceX.                  Video screenshot by CNET

Enlarge Image Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa speaks about his moon mission through SpaceX. Video screenshot by CNET

Musk makes much of sending people to the moon for the first time since the end of the Apollo programme on 1972.

During the BFR flight, Maezawa - and certainly some of his other passengers - will become the first non-Americans to travel to the moon.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, just made a number of major announcements in a press conference he organised at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne.

"It's unsafe to be clear", Musk said. It'll be 1100 cubic metres in total, and the payload will be similar to that of Falcon 9, about 100 metric tonnes (to the surface of Mars). The vehicle is now under development at the Los Angeles Port.

'This is risky, to be clear. There is a chance something could go wrong'.

SpaceX's CEO is clearly chomping at the bit to reveal more information about the company's newest BFR iteration, hopefully now closing in on something close to what will actually enter production and begin flight testing. The BFR, announced in September 2017, eventually will replace SpaceX's other launch vehicles, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, as well as its Dragon spacecraft. "You have to set some kind of date that's the things-go-right date". He had said that the trip would happen this year.

The spacecraft will continue on toward the Moon, powered by its own engines.

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Musk also used the announcement to announce some changes to the BFR design, focused on the upper stage, or spaceship, portion.

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

"The reason for creating SpaceX was to accelerate the advent of humanity becoming a space bearing civilisations, to advance rocket technology to become a multiplanet species and becoming a true space bearing species", Musk said.

Musk said on Twitter SpaceX's contracts with NASA remain a top priority, including the commercial crew program to shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Now the Elon Musk show returned to the sprawling SpaceX headquarters outside Los Angeles, where the company will - whether intentionally or not - provide a prime-time diversion to the troubles surrounding its celebrity chief executive by providing details about its long-anticipated moon shot. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

Besides running SpaceX and Tesla, Musk has also invested in the solar energy company SolarCity to turn his vision of a solar-powered future into a reality.

Those comments add additional color to the updated narrative gradually trickling out of SpaceX as the company pushes towards a finalized "flight design" for the Mars-bound launch vehicle and spaceship, a critical step that must precede integrated design reviews and flight tests.

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