Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced on Wednesday that he will select eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX. The mission called dearMoon is scheduled to fly sometime in 2023. Maezawa had earlier he planned to invite "artists" for the voyage on the Starship rocket.
However, the project has been adjusted and now "will give people from around the globe the chance to join this journey," said Maezawa, who shared the details of the selection process via a Twitter video message. Maezawa was named as the first private passenger due to be flown around the moon by SpaceX in 2018.
Maezawa on Wednesday said that the opportunity, which was early being planned only for artists, is now open for everyone. The project will now fly "10 to 12 people in all," with eight of the crew coming from members of the public. "If you see yourself as an artist, then you are an artist," Maezawa said. The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Maezawa.
Applicants need to fulfill two criteria: First, they should advance "whatever activity" they are in to "help other people and greater society in some way", and are "willing to support other crew members who share similar aspirations", he said.
Maezawa also said that he has brought all the seats so "it will be a private ride." Planned for 2023, the mission would be the first lunar journey by humans since 1972.
Maezawa, a fashion mogul and art collector, said that he had earlier thought that the mission would get delayed but everything seems to be going as planned. Maezawa, the billionaire entrepreneur who sold his online fashion business Zozo to SoftBank in 2019, will be paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX's next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
However, the total price of the tickets isn't known but Musk had earlier said that it will cost a lot of money. Maezawa, hwoever, is yet to start training for the mission. He expects the train will take a few months at the most but in the meantime he is watching his alcohol intake and exercising while spending a few hours a week considering the mission, he said.
The highlight of the project will be to see the whole Earth and the far side of the moon, said Maezawa, who had considered a trip to the ISS before choosing the more ambitious moon voyage. Maezawa, who recently introduced SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son to audio app Clubhouse, also plans to feature the preparation process for the daerMoon mission on his YouTube channel.
He is already the highest followed Japanese on social media. His YouTube channel which is a hit also offers videos of him playing golf in Hawaii and racing supercars. Interestingly, last year, Maezawa had launched a documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on the trip, before cancelling due to "mixed feelings".