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September 14, 2018

In February 2017, Elon Musk announced that his SpaceX rockets would take two unidentified space tourists on a trip around the moon by the end of 2018. That timeline was pushed back to 2019 earlier this year, but on Thursday night, SpaceX dropped a surprise announcement.

Who is this mystery passenger? Probably not Musk, who dropped a clue — a Japanese flag emoji — on Twitter when asked about the space tourist. The original plan had been to send the two space tourists around the moon on a Dragon spacecraft powered by a Falcon Heavy rocket, which SpaceX successfully launched in May. The BFR, which Musk has described as the biggest rocket ever made, is still in the development stage.

If Musk does end up being one of the passengers on his around-the-moon vacation, he wouldn't be the only billionaire space tourism entrepreneur to ride on his own spacecraft. "Before the end of the year I hope to be sitting in a Virgin Galactic spaceship, going to space," Virgin chief Richard Branson told Bloomberg TV in May. Peter Weber