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NASA isn’t going to pay for the BFR, so Musk charts a new course

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Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks as Yusaku Maezawa, founder and president of Start Today Co., looks on at an event at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Monday, (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On a Monday night filled with emotion as much as engineering, one of the most poignant moments came toward the end of the program at SpaceX’s rocket factory in California. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, choked up as he described the financial contribution from a Japanese businessman, Yusaku Maezawa, to his Big Falcon Rocket project.

“I’ll tell you, it’s done a lot to restore my faith in humanity,” Musk said, seated in front of the end of a Falcon 9 rocket and its nine engines. “That somebody is willing to do this, take their money and help fund this new project that’s risky, might not succeed, it’s dangerous. He’s like donating seats. These are great things.”

The headline news out of Monday’s event was that Maezawa has bought all of the seats on the first human flight of SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and upper stage spaceship (BFS)—a sortie around the Moon as early as 2023. Although neither Musk nor Maezawa would specify how much it had cost, Musk said, “This is a non-trivial amount that will have a material impact on the BFR program.”

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