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He spoke to the media at the SpaceX rocket factory in Hawthorne, California.

Musk said on Twitter SpaceX's contracts with NASA remain a top priority, including the commercial crew program to shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon.

"He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster", Elon Musk told the crowd.

The mission in question is planned for 2023 and would be the first lunar journey undertaken by humans since 1972, when the final Apollo mission took place. While the spacecraft has yet to be fully developed or flight tested, the company says the next generation BFR "will be the most powerful rocket in history", able to "carry humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond".

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.

Musk introduced Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the global custom-fit clothing company Zozo and an avid art collector, as the one who is investing in the spaceship project in order to take the trip, possibly in 2023.

Speaking to the crowd, Mr Maezawa said the possibility of flying to the Moon was a "lifelong dream". Though the rocket has not been built yet, they intend an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022 and a crewed flight in 2024.

The BFR will stand about 387 feet (118 meters) tall, and both its rocket and spaceship components will be reusable. Aerospace experts who follow Musk and SpaceX's activities suggest there could be more iterations before the company's first lunar voyage lifts off the launch pad.

The BFR is a long way from reality and Musk himself says he's "not 100 percent certain we can bring this to flight".

In an interview in March, Musk said the ship was now being built, adding "I think we'll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year".

During Monday night's announcement, Musk said the whole goal of SpaceX is to "help advance rocket technology to the point where we could potentially become a multi-planet species", and to "extend life beyond Earth and do so as quickly as we can". The company now has the Falcon and Falcon Heavy rockets.