HAWTHORNE (CBSLA/AP) — SpaceX says Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will become the first person to travel to the moon since 1972.

The 42-year-old entrepreneur appeared at an event Monday evening at the space launch company’s headquarters of the space launch company near Los Angeles.

He says it’s been his lifelong dream to go into space. He says just thinking about the journey gets his heart racing.

“I can tell you that I choose to go to the moon!” Maezawa said emphatically. “Yeah, finally I can say I’m very glad to be here, really exciting and really honored. [I] really appreciate to be able to share […] this announcement with you.”

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says Maezawa will fly to the moon aboard a new rocket called the BFR, which is still in development.

“He’s a very brave person to do this, and because he is paying a lot of money — we’re not disclosing the amounts — but he is paying a lot of money that will help with the development of this ship and booster,” said Musk. “And ultimately, you know, this system, BFR system, is intended is intended to be able to carry anyone to orbit and to the moon and to Mars.”

The reusable 118-meter (387-foot) rocket will have its own dedicated passenger ship.

The average distance from Earth to the moon is about 237,685 miles (382,500 kilometers). No one has been there since an Apollo mission in 1972.

The aerospace company, which is based in Hawthorne, did not say when the flight might occur or how much was paid for the ticket.

In February 2017, SpaceX said two “private citizens” had “paid a significant deposit” for a trip around the moon. It’s not clear if one of those people is Maezawa.

The company is still developing the BFR rocket, which will be the successor to SpaceX’s oft-used Falcon 9 rocket and its upgraded version, the Falcon Heavy. The BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is being developed in a SpaceX facility at the Port of Los Angeles. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said previously he hoped the rocket would be ready for a trip to Mars by 2022.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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