A JAPANESE billionaire on Wednesday launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa had originally planned to invite artists for the weeklong voyage slated for 2023.
Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has launched a search for eight people to join him on a private space flight around the MoonCredit: Reuters
The rejigged project will “give more people from around the globe the chance to join this journey. 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.
The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX’s next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
“I thought there might be delays but everything is on schedule,” said Maezawa in an interview.
Two recent Starship prototypes have exploded during testing, underscoring the risks for Maezawa, 45, and his fellow passengers.
The group must also contend with the strains of space travel in the first private journey beyond Earth’s orbit.
“Elon Musk says there is no problem and I believe him,” said Maezawa.
SpaceX ferried four astronauts to the International Space Station in November on its Falcon 9 rocket.
The fashion tycoon had originally planned to invite artists for the weeklong voyage slated for 2023Credit: Reuters
Maezawa said he is not in training – which he expects to take a few months at most – but is watching his alcohol intake and exercising while spending a few hours a week considering the mission.
“I’m only preparing mentally,” said the fashion guru, wearing a Dior shirt over a T-shirt depicting the iconic 1968 Earthrise photo.
Seeing the whole Earth and the far side of the moon would be highlights of the trip, said Maezawa, who had considered a trip to the ISS before choosing the more ambitious Moon voyage.
“This mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from Planet Earth,” Musk said, days after SpaceX completed its latest $850million fundraising, which has helped turn the businessman into one of the world’s richest people.
The entrepreneur is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX’s next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the StarshipCredit: The Mega Agency
Costs for the trip remain in line with the original contract with SpaceX, said Maezawa, who has declined to say how much that is, but says is more than his $110million purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.
Both Musk and Maezawa have built loyal followings on social media, with the latter’s cash giveaways helping to make him Japan’s most-followed Twitter account.
Maezawa, who recently introduced SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son to audio app Clubhouse, said he plans to feature mission preparation on his YouTube channel, which also offers videos of him playing golf in Hawaii and racing supercars.
Last year he launched a short-lived documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on the trip before pulling out citing “mixed feelings.”
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX’s first aim was to build rockets that can autonomously land back on Earth for refurbishment and re-use.
The technology makes launching and operating space flights more efficient, and therefore cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various government agencies and multinational companies.
The company took astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists to the ISS and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.
How to apply for the flight
Maezawa said in a video posted to his YouTube channel that he has axed his original plan to fill his spare seats with “artists”.
“I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist,” he said.
“That is why I wanted to reach out to a wider, more diverse audience.”
The billionaire has now opened up applications to anyone from around the world who meet two criteria.
Seeing the whole Earth and the far side of the moon would be highlights of the trip, said MaezawaCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“First of all, whatever activity you are into, by going into space, I hope that you can push its envelope to help other people and greater society in some way,” Maezawa said.
“I want someone with that kind of potential to take part.
“Are you satisfied with what you’re doing right now? By going to space, could you do something that’s even better, even bigger?”
On top of that, you need to be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations, he added.
You can pre-register for the selection process on the mission’s website here. Applicants will receive an email about the scheme further down the line.
In other news, the world’s first reality show filmed in space will follow a contestant on a 10-day trip to the ISS in 2023.
Acids may have destroyed any evidence of ancient life on Mars, according to a new study.
And, a Nasa has unveiled a new lunar lander that could put astronauts back on the Moon in 2024.
Would you like to go to space? Let us know in the comments…
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