In a surprise Tweet, SpaceX has teased the announcement of the first private passenger of their BFR launch vehicle. The mysterious passenger will board the BFR for a flight around the moon joining an exclusive club of just 24 people to have visited the celestial body.
The privately chartered flight around the moon had initially been announced by Elon Musk on February 27, 2017. With that initial announcement, it was revealed that the passenger would board a Dragon Crew capsule to be launched aboard a Falcon Heavy sometime in 2018. With the shift to the BFR vehicle, it is likely that the launch of the private mission will be pushed several years. The provider has not yet released any information regarding the change of launch vehicle.
The official announcement on the mission and the mysterious private passenger is scheduled for September 20 at 01:00 UTC (September 19 at 18:00 PT).
The passenger identity
Almost as soon as the announcement was posted to Twitter, users began to speculate who the passenger may be. In response to a Twitter user asking if the passenger would, in fact, be Elon Musk, Musk responded simply with an emoji of a Japanese flag. Although certainly not a definitive confirmation, this would imply that the passenger is Japanese. With this information in mind, much of the Twittersphere speculation began to focus on one man, Daisuke Enomoto.
Enomoto’s ambition to travel to space is well documented. In 2006, he trained at Star City in Russia and was set to join two members of Expedition 14 onboard Soyuz TMA-9. However, Enomoto was pulled from the crew at the last second due to medical reasons and wasn’t able to secure a second slot. It would, as a result, come as no surprise to many in the industry if it was announced that Enomoto was the mysterious BFR passenger.