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

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk speaks today at an event to announce the name of the person who would be the first private passenger on a trip around the moon in Hawthorne, Calif.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks today after SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk announced him as the person who would be the first private passenger on a trip around the moon in Hawthorne, Calif.

Elon Musk just revealed the identity of the precious cargo hitching a ride around the moon with his rocket company: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Maezawa will fly on Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s BFR rocket on a trip around the moon, Musk announced today, without saying when. SpaceX expects Maezawa, 42, to be the first private passenger to make the journey that only 24 astronauts have been on during the Apollo era that ended 46 years ago.

Musk, who’s also chairman and chief executive officer of electric-car maker Tesla Inc., is a master showman who’s been adept at inspiring a massive audience of followers for his pursuit of electric cars and other clean-energy endeavors critical to combating global warming. With SpaceX, he’s described his mission as nothing short of making humans a multi-planetary species.

Maezawa, whose net worth is $2.3 billion, is the founder and CEO of Japan’s largest e-commerce company Start Today Co. The company has grown from its origins as a mail-order music album business, and now makes most of its money through its shopping website Zozotown, which is popular with younger domestic consumers.

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