SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced the first paying tourist that the company plans to fly around the moon on a 240,000-mile journey on its promised Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) - and it's Japanese billionaire, founder of online fashion giant Zozo, and art collector Yusaku Maezawa.
Maezawa, age 42, plans to invite six to eight artists to join him on his historic mission, which he calls the "Dear Moon" project.
The mission, now planned for 2023, will take place on SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket.
"One day, when I was staring at his painting, I thought, what if Basquiat had gone to space, and had seen the moon up close, or saw Earth in full view".
Maezawa said his interest in the moon started as a child.
"Luckily, we still have some time before 2023, so I hope to work very closely with the SpaceX team and to reach out to each artist personally", Maezawa said. He drew attention past year with the purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $110.5 million.
"I wish to create awesome works of art for humankind", Maezawa said.
Musk called Maezawa a "very fearless person" to take the flight to the moon.
"All right. Maybe we will both be on it", Musk said to cheers and applause.
Musk said the money spent on the trip will help to fund the BFR's development, with the goal of one day opening up space travel to the average person. The reusable 118-meter (387-foot) rocket will have its own dedicated passenger ship.
The mission will not involve a lunar landing. The Falcon Heavy rocket launched four year later than planned, while the crew capsule will have been delayed by five years when it sends the first crew of astronauts to the International Space Station in 2019.
Musk has put NASA and the Air Force - which collaborates with the space agency in myriad ways - in the awkward position of having to respond to controversial conduct recently.
He made headlines in 2016 when he paid more than $57 million at auction for an untitled work by Basquiat.
Kelly tweeted his good wishes to Maezawa on Tuesday, "Good luck on your trip and if you need someone with a little experience to go with you, my schedule is wide open in 2023".
As the Post noted, it's been remarkably successful with "34 straight successful rocket launches over the last 20 months" and a "massive backlog of commercial launch contracts".
In the past few months, Musk has lashed out at analysts during an earnings call for Tesla, his electric vehicle company, for asking "boring, bonehead questions".
The first space tourist pointed out that he already paid for the reservation of all the seats on the SpaceX BFR rocket. He calls the project #dearmoon. But as he rode the train for an hour and a half every morning from his home in Japan's Chiba prefecture, he told the Times in London he started noticing how all the people headed to their jobs appeared to be "tired and unhappy".