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Japanese Billionaire Will Fly To The Moon With SpaceX, Elon Musk Says

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SpaceX, Elon Musk’s ambitious rocket endeavor, said Monday it had signed a Japanese billionaire as its first paying private citizen to travel to the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa has purchased every available seat aboard Musk’s first BFR rocket that will travel to the moon as early as 2023. Maezawa is worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes, and founded Japan’s largest online fashion retailer.

“Why do I want to go to the moon? What do I want to do there? For me this project is very meaningful,” Maezawa said at a news conference Monday. “I thought long and hard about how it would be very valuable to become the first private passenger to go to the moon. At the same time, I thought how I could give to the world and how this could contribute to world peace. This is my lifelong dream.”

Maezawa, a prolific collector of modern art, said he planned to bring six to eight artists with him aboard the BFR, which stands for Big Falcon Rocket. He said he would be soliciting requests from the world’s leading creative people to travel with him on the endeavor, which he is calling #dearMoon.

It’s unclear how much Maezawa paid for the seats.

Musk released the proposed trajectory of the first lunar SpaceX flight with a paying customer, which could take place as earl


SpaceX/YouTube

Musk released the proposed trajectory of the first lunar SpaceX flight with a paying customer, which could take place as early as 2023.

Musk himself has had a rocky year. The entrepreneur drew widespread condemnation after baselessly calling a British diver involved in the rescue of a trapped Thai soccer team a “pedo guy” in July. He apologized, but later increased the attack, labeling the man a “child rapist” without any evidence. The rescuer sued Musk on Monday in U.S. District Court in California for defamation.

An off-the-cuff tweet also left investors reeling after Musk said he planned to take Tesla, his electric car company, private.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell also went on the defensive earlier this month, defending her boss as a “brilliant man.” She said Musk’s recent behavior would have “no impact at all” on investors and that there was “no chance” the antics would influence future contracts.

Only 24 people have been to the moon in human history, the last venturing there with NASA’s Apollo program in 1972. American Eugene Cernan was the last man on the moon, as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the first name of Yusaku Maezawa. 



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Here Are Some Of The Most Outrageous Perks Cities Offered Amazon

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Did Amazon successfully trick cities and states around the country into a bidding war that gave it leverage to negotiate with the two cities ― New York City and Arlington, Virginia ― it planned to launch in all along?

The company will probably never say, but the range of perks that so many places offered hints at just how much control Amazon, a company headed by the richest man in the world, wielded in this year-long game. 

Not all governments have released the details of their bids, but those that have showed just how much they were willing to put on the line. Aside from the billions in tax incentives most locales offered, here’s a look at five of the most outrageous things governments brought to the table ― often at the expense of taxpayers. 

Free Pets, Hotel Rooms, Aquarium Memberships And More

Dallas is perhaps the best instance of a city’s willingness to sweeten the deal with extravagant perks, offering up taxpayer dollars to provide free things to Amazon employees. 

That offer included free one-year memberships to the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Children’s Aquarium, Dallas Arboretum, Texas Discovery Gardens and the Trinity River Audubon Center for any employee hired between 2019 and 2021, and waived pet adoption fees at the Dallas Animal Services adoption center for Amazon employees until 2022. 

One of the pricier perks offered was an estimated $1.5 million in free rides on “shuttles, pedicabs, courtesy carts, or other quick transit solutions” to help HQ2 employees get around while the city improves its transit system. 

Additionally, Dallas offered the company 2,000 free nights at a city-owned hotel and 100 free days of event space. 

Renaming Public Property For Amazon

The state of Georgia said Amazon would have the opportunity to rename streets around a future campus in Atlanta.

Suggestions included Amazon Lane, Alexa Way, Prime Place and Kindle Rd. 

“Simply put, Atlanta has a long history of Amazon love,” the state said in its attempt to woo the company.

It also promised to explore the possibility of turning one of Atlanta’s MARTA transit cars into a vehicle for transporting Amazon products around the metropolitan area. 

Notice If The Media Is Looking Into Amazon

It wasn’t just the helicopter landing pad that helped Virginia win over a slice of the new Amazon headquarters. As part of its offer, the state will notify the company within two days of receiving any Freedom of Information Act requests about Amazon “to allow the Company to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.”

FOIA requests are often filed by members of the media to obtain previously unreleased information or documents controlled by the U.S. government. For example, it was through a FOIA request that The Daily Beast revealed last month that Amazon had met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pitch the agency on its facial recognition surveillance technology.

A Say In How Taxes Would Be Spent

Fresno, California, offered Amazon the chance to be the “ultimate corporate citizen,” as Fresno Mayor Lee Brand described it to KQED, by letting Amazon have joint say with the city in how the taxes the company paid would be spent. 

The deal would have established a so-called Amazon Community Fund for Amazon’s tax money to be managed by five people: two elected officials, one community representative and two Amazon appointees.

“I’ve never seen a proposal to give a company formal control,” Greg LeRoy, executive director of the economic development nonprofit Good Jobs First, told KQED. “That’s really off the charts.”

A ‘Blank Check’ For Transit Projects

While many bids include promises to make transit easier for HQ2 employees, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn took things a step further in the state’s bid.

“Our statement for HQ2 is we’ll provide whatever is necessary to Amazon when they need it,” he told state senators during a hearing on his department’s budget. “For all practical purposes, it’s a blank check.”

That amount, he continued, “could be more or could be less” than the $2 billion in unspecified transportation upgrades already laid out in the state’s formal bid. 



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Here Are Some Of The Most Outrageous Perks Cities Offered Amazon

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Did Amazon successfully trick cities and states around the country into a bidding war that gave it leverage to negotiate with the two cities ― New York City and Arlington, Virginia ― it planned to launch in all along?

The company will probably never say, but the range of perks that so many places offered hints at just how much control Amazon, a company headed by the richest man in the world, wielded in this year-long game. 

Not all governments have released the details of their bids, but those that have showed just how much they were willing to put on the line. Aside from the billions in tax incentives most locales offered, here’s a look at five of the most outrageous things governments brought to the table ― often at the expense of taxpayers. 

Free Pets, Hotel Rooms, Aquarium Memberships And More

Dallas is perhaps the best instance of a city’s willingness to sweeten the deal with extravagant perks, offering up taxpayer dollars to provide free things to Amazon employees. 

That offer included free one-year memberships to the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Children’s Aquarium, Dallas Arboretum, Texas Discovery Gardens and the Trinity River Audubon Center for any employee hired between 2019 and 2021, and waived pet adoption fees at the Dallas Animal Services adoption center for Amazon employees until 2022. 

One of the pricier perks offered was an estimated $1.5 million in free rides on “shuttles, pedicabs, courtesy carts, or other quick transit solutions” to help HQ2 employees get around while the city improves its transit system. 

Additionally, Dallas offered the company 2,000 free nights at a city-owned hotel and 100 free days of event space. 

Renaming Public Property For Amazon

The state of Georgia said Amazon would have the opportunity to rename streets around a future campus in Atlanta.

Suggestions included Amazon Lane, Alexa Way, Prime Place and Kindle Rd. 

“Simply put, Atlanta has a long history of Amazon love,” the state said in its attempt to woo the company.

It also promised to explore the possibility of turning one of Atlanta’s MARTA transit cars into a vehicle for transporting Amazon products around the metropolitan area. 

Notice If The Media Is Looking Into Amazon

It wasn’t just the helicopter landing pad that helped Virginia win over a slice of the new Amazon headquarters. As part of its offer, the state will notify the company within two days of receiving any Freedom of Information Act requests about Amazon “to allow the Company to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.”

FOIA requests are often filed by members of the media to obtain previously unreleased information or documents controlled by the U.S. government. For example, it was through a FOIA request that The Daily Beast revealed last month that Amazon had met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pitch the agency on its facial recognition surveillance technology.

A Say In How Taxes Would Be Spent

Fresno, California, offered Amazon the chance to be the “ultimate corporate citizen,” as Fresno Mayor Lee Brand described it to KQED, by letting Amazon have joint say with the city in how the taxes the company paid would be spent. 

The deal would have established a so-called Amazon Community Fund for Amazon’s tax money to be managed by five people: two elected officials, one community representative and two Amazon appointees.

“I’ve never seen a proposal to give a company formal control,” Greg LeRoy, executive director of the economic development nonprofit Good Jobs First, told KQED. “That’s really off the charts.”

A ‘Blank Check’ For Transit Projects

While many bids include promises to make transit easier for HQ2 employees, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn took things a step further in the state’s bid.

“Our statement for HQ2 is we’ll provide whatever is necessary to Amazon when they need it,” he told state senators during a hearing on his department’s budget. “For all practical purposes, it’s a blank check.”

That amount, he continued, “could be more or could be less” than the $2 billion in unspecified transportation upgrades already laid out in the state’s formal bid. 



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New York Taxpayers Are Buying A Helipad For The Richest Man In The World

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New Yorkers, take note: While you commute in dilapidated and decaying subways, know that Jeff Bezos will be able to rely on a more upscale mode of transit to get to Amazon’s forthcoming New York City headquarters in Queens.

That’s because New Yorkers are buying a helipad for Bezos, the richest man in the world.

Buried in the 32-page, $1.5 billion agreement between New York’s various economic development agencies and Amazon is a promise by the city to help the company secure rights to a helipad on, “or in reasonable proximity to,” the company’s new site in Long Island City.

(Amazon’s other recently announced headquarters, in Virginia, also includes a clause for a helipad).

For its part, Amazon agreed to limit landings on the pad to no more than 120 a year, restrict it to “corporate use” only and agree to fly “exclusively over water or the Development Sites.”

In a prepared statement Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to make sure the area has the transportation infrastructure it needs. Lacking additional detail, however, Queens residents should brace for the chaos sure to follow an expected 25,000 Amazon employees who will be commuting to and from the neighborhood on a regular basis.



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