The Japanese billionaire is looking for eight people to join him for a lunar mission on SpaceX rocket

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Tuesday invited the public to apply for a spot on SpaceX’s Starship in his private mission around the Moon and reach out to a “wider, more diverse audience” two years after announcing he was just with a select group of artists. The trip is currently planned for 2023, but that date may not hold.

“I want people from all walks of life to join in,” Maezawa said in a video posted Tuesday afternoon. application go live. “There will be a total of 10 to 12 people, but I will invite 8 people to ride together.”

Maezawa, the founder of the largest online fashion retailer in Japan, is worth about $ 2 billion. He was unveiled as the first signed passenger of Starship in 2018 during an event with CEO Elon Musk at SpaceX’s headquarters in California. At the event, Maezawa, an avid art collector, announced his Dear Moon project, which aimed to bring “six to eight artists from around the world” to take him somewhere in 2023 on an approximately six-day lunar mission. close.

“These artists will be asked to create something after returning to earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer in all of us,” Maezawa said at the time.

In a YouTube video released on Tuesday, Maezawa said the plan “has evolved since then”, adding that “perhaps every person can call something creative an artist.”

Now anyone who meets two criteria can be selected for the ride: those who ‘can push the envelope to help other people and the larger society in some way’ and ‘are willing to support other crew members who have similar aspirations ‘.

Project updates have been few in the past two years. In January 2020, Maezawa launched a bizarre campaign to find a ‘female mate’ who would accompany him during his journey around the Moon. A website for the game received 27,722 applications, and the Japanese streaming service AbemaTV would document the mission in a reality TV program called Full moon lovers. Weeks later, the show was canceled, and Maezawa stopped his search for ‘personal reasons’. tweetedand apologized to AbemaTV crew and all the applicants.

Starship is SpaceX’s next generation, fully reusable Mars rocket system designed to transport humans and up to 100 tons of cargo on future missions into deep space. Only early repetitions of the rocket have flown so far, with one of two recent altitude tests flying as far as 12 km over SpaceX’s Starship facilities in Boca Chica, Texas. Both of these tests ended in heavy explosions during their landing attempts.

In Maezawa’s announcement on Tuesday, no details were missing on how the chosen astronauts would train for the mission, but he made it clear that the unknown ticket price applies to him: ‘I will pay for the whole trip. I bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride. He said it would take three days to reach the Moon, where Starship would walk behind it and begin its three-day journey back to Earth.

According to a strict and sometimes bumpy development period, Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said Starship’s first orbital flight could arrive at the end of 2021. Last year, Musk said Starship should do hundreds of satellite missions before we put people on board. , ”An achievement that casts doubt on the lunar date of 2023.

SpaceX’s other crew vehicle, the Crew Dragon, is already in its operational phase and is planning future flights with private astronauts and tourists. The acorn-shaped capsule flew its first two crew astronauts to the International Space Station last year under NASA’s commercial crew program. The private astronaut missions include a flight to the space station scheduled for early next year with fixed investors and philanthropists, and a “civilian” charity-based mission announced last month, which will be launched by the end of the year.

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