TOKYO – A Japanese billionaire is searching for eight people to join him on a free trip around the moon in 2023.
Yusaku Maezawa, who founded the online fashion retail website Zozotown, created the “dearMoon” project to recruit passengers for the “first civilian lunar mission.” The 45-year-old says he’ll pay for the entire journey and it will be a private ride, since he’s purchased all the seats.
“I’m inviting you to join me on this mission, eight of you from all around the world,” said Maezawa in a video posted Tuesday. “It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting eight people to come along on the ride.”
The passengers will aboard a rocket called Starship, which is being developed by SpaceX. Maezawa says it will take three days for the spacecraft to get to the moon and loop behind it, and another three days to return back to Earth.
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, says the dearMoon mission will be the first commercial spaceflight with humans beyond Earth’s orbit and since nobody has ever gone past the moon, he says the passengers will actually go further than any human has ever gone from Earth.
Initially, Maezawa said he would be inviting artists from around the world to come along with him, but he has since expanded the pool of eligible people.
“I wanted to reach out to a wider, more diverse audience to give more people across the world the opportunity to join this journey,” he said.
Maezawa says there are two key criteria for passengers. First, he says he wants them to “push the envelope," help other people and greater society in some way.
“I want someone with that kind of potential to take part,” he said. “Are you satisfied with what you’re doing right now? By going to space, could you do something that’s even better, even bigger? If that sounds like you, please join me.”
He also wants the passengers to be able to support each other’s aspirations.
“Secondly, you have to be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations,” said Maezawa. “These two criteria will be key in selecting the eight crew members.”
The dearMoon website says “pre-registration” is open for candidates until March 14. The application requests your name, country, email address, and a profile picture. An “initial screening” process starts on March 21, with a “final interview and medical checkup” in late May.
Musk says everything is on track for a 2023 launch.
“I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023,” said Musk. “It’s looking very, very promising. Yeah, I think for sure anyone who is interested in joining on this mission, I think they’ll love it. This will be historic, and I think very fun, and interesting and inspiring and exciting.”