The moon and back: How much does it cost to be Space X’s first passenger to the moon?

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has been named as the first private passenger on a trip to the moon.

On Monday, Space X owner Elon Musk announced Maezawa was the first person to buy a seat on his commercial trip to orbit the moon.

The 42-year-old prospective space tourist is worth a reported US$2.9 billion (NZ$4.4 billion) according to Forbes and he has a history of extravagant expenses. In 2017 he paid US$110m (NZ$166m) for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Yet this interplanetary trip is likely to cost a whole lot more.

But just how much does a ticket to the moon cost?

The short answer is a lot.

We have had private space travel for some time now. If you have a burning desire to see the earth from space and the ability to offload millions of dollars, companies are already selling seats to the highest bidder.

Since NASA ended the space shuttle missions in 2011, it has relied on private company Roscosmos to taxi astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). It pays US$81m (NZ$122m) per seat.

As Elon Musk’s company Space X and Boeing compete for the business NASA has forecast the price to drop to around US$58m (NZ$88m).

However the moon is a whole different ballgame.

A one way trip to the orbital ISS is about 408km. It floats roughly the distance between Auckland and Wellington above the earth’s surface.

The moon is ten times that. At 360,000 km away from the Earth when at its closest orbit it’s likely to be a lot more expensive.

Space Adventures, the travel agency which arranges space journeys for Roscosmos (yes there’s a space travel agency), estimated that a trip to the moon would be US$175m (NZ$265m)

In fact, that’s the price tag Space Adventures intends to put on a seat for its own trips to the moon, it told The Verge. The Roscosmos moon mission is projected for 2020.

Though the Russian company has yet to announce any buyers for its moon trip, it’s a sign of something exciting.

There’s a new space race and those taking part are paying passengers.

Where else could you buy for $175m

Those who remember the pictures from the Apollo spacecrafts know they hardly resemble a luxury cruise cabin.Space ships are measured for every milligram of efficiency, not for comfort – and it’s pretty Spartan up there.

Now we know (roughly) how much a ticket to the moon would cost, it’s important to be aware of quite how much you’re leaving behind.

If you’re going to abandon the Garden of Earthly delights for a trip into space, you’ll want to weigh up your options first.

What else could you get for your money?

For the US$175m to fly the 768800km to the moon and back in six days. . .

You could sail 3500 times around the world

, and spend 1352 years at sea on the Viking Sun’s world cruise.

You could fly business class 43,585 times from Auckland to Doha return. (Or – were it an option – it would only cost you a paltry $6.6m to fly business class to the moon and back with Qatar Airways.)

You could live in the top suite in the most expensive hotel in the world – Geneva’s Hotel President Wilson – for 6 years 278 days. A week in the Royal Penthouse Suite costs US$83,200 (NZ$126,280) a night.

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