Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa stood before the audience gathered at SpaceX headquarters Monday evening and was greeted by cheers when he echoed a line from a famous speech by President John F. Kennedy, proclaiming "I choose to go to the moon".
He said he would invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people on the week-long journey to circumnavigate the moon in 2023.
The BFR is SpaceX's upcoming two-stage reusable spaceship system that will weigh 9.7 million pounds and be capable of taking a 330,000 pound payload to Mars and lower-Earth orbit (LEO), officials say.
Musk previously tweeted some updated illustrations of the under-development BFR spacecraft that is expected to carry Maezawa off on the vacation of a lifetime around our lunar neighbor.
"He's paying a very significant amount of money", Musk said. "This is no walk in the park", Musk said of the mission.
While Musk has insisted that the spacecraft is safe, he warned Monday that there "are some chances things could go wrong". Everybody loves to explore, just like we do at Space Center Houston.
This isn't the first time Musk has vowed to send tourists around the Moon.
Questions at the event, we were told, were to stay "on topic" and it been a turbulent few weeks for Musk. He has accused, without proof, one of the cave divers who participated in the rescue of a Thai youth football team of being a paedophile. And earlier this month, a video of Musk smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey on a popular podcast circulated on social media.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who has booked SpaceX's first private flight around the moon on a Big Falcon Rocket, meet the press during the mission's unveiling at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California on September 17, 2018.
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.
The 42-year-old Maezawa is one of Japan's most colorful executives and is a regular fixture in the country's gossipy weeklies with his collection of foreign and Japanese art, fast cars and celebrity girlfriend.
Not since the Apollo mission of 1972 has man come close to the surface of the moon but this could soon be about to change if Elon Musk has his way.
If you were dreaming of being the first private citizen in space. you've been beaten to it.
SpaceX has had a string of successful rocket launches, but that has been overshadowed by the struggles of Musk's Tesla electric vehicle company to deliver and his behavior. It also has a massive backlog of commercial launch contracts.
The BFR will be constructed at a SpaceX facility in Los Angeles and is being created to handle everything from missions to Earth orbit to long-term cargo and crew missions to Mars. "That doesn't mean it won't happen", said retired NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham.