Take me to the moon? Japanese billionaire seeks volunteers for SpaceX mission

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I want to escape? A Japanese billionaire is looking for eight volunteers to fly with him to the moon in Elon Musk’s spaceship. “It will take three days to reach the moon, turn behind it, and three days to return,” Yusaku Maezawa said in a video Tuesday. “I’ll pay for the whole trip.” Applications must be submitted by March 14 and initial evaluations will begin shortly thereafter. Final interviews and medical checkups are scheduled to compete in late May.

The mission to fly around the moon and back, called dearMoon, is scheduled for 2023 in a SpaceX spacecraft. Although the spacecraft is still in the early stages of testing, Musk says he is confident it will be ready in two years. Starship’s first two test flights ended in explosive accidental landings. Maezawa, an entrepreneur and art collector who founded the online fashion business Zozo 3092, -1.03%, which sold to SoftBank 9984, + 1.01% for $ 900 million in 2019, bought the right to be SpaceX’s first lunar tourist in 2018. The flight will have between 10 and 12 people in total, including the eight civilians. “I hope that together we can make it a fun trip,” Maezawa said. Maezawa’s initial plan two years ago was to invite artists on the trip, but that plan has “evolved,” he said, as he decided that “artist” was too ambiguous a term. “Every person who is doing something creative could call themselves an artist … and that is why I wanted to reach a wider and more diverse audience.” Maezawa said there are two key criteria for those who want to fly into space with him: the willingness to go the extra mile to create a better society and the willingness to support others, including crew members, in their aspirations. “Those two criteria will be key in selecting the eight crew members,” he said. In the video, Musk noted that the mission will be the first commercial spaceflight with humans to travel beyond Earth’s orbit. In fact, it will pass beyond the moon, Musk said, so “we expect people to go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth.” It’s unclear how much the lunar mission is costing Maezawa. In 2018, Musk just said it’s “a lot of money.” But Maezawa is no stranger to splurging: He spent a record $ 110.5 million for a Basquiat painting at a 2017 auction and admitted to losing $ 41 million on intraday transactions in 2020.