Who is Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa taking to the Moon with him?

Space flight participant Yusaku Maezawa attends a training session ahead of the expedition to the ISS at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Center in Moscow
Space flight participant Yusaku Maezawa attends a training session ahead of the expedition to the ISS at the Gagarin Cosmonauts' Training Center in Moscow   -   Copyright  Shamil Zhumatov/AP
By Jonny Walfisz

Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has been planning a trip to space for a few years.

In 2018, Maezawa announced his #dearMoon project, a tourist trip to the Moon and back. The plan was to use a SpaceX Starship spacecraft and take a flyby drive around Earth’s celestial neighbour.

The location was chosen: the Moon. The vehicle was set: a SpaceX craft. The only thing missing from the galatic road ingredients trip was the friends Maezawa would take with him.

Now, the billionaire who made his fortune through an online clothes selling platform, has announced who will be lucky enough to join him on his roundtrip to the Moon.

It’s not the first trip to space for Maezawa though.

This time last year, Maezawa took his first space flight in a Soyuz spacecraft. The 12 day trip took him to the International Space Station (ISS).

AP Photo
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, center, and spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa, left, and Yozo Hirano, rightAP Photo

Clearly, Maezawa got a taste for space travel and now he wants to pass that joy onto eight lucky crew members.

Maezawa recruited his intrepid co-travellers through Twitter and then announced the members on the platform yesterday.

Ivan Timoshenko/Roscosmos Space Agency
The Soyuz-2.1a rocket booster with Soyuz MS-20 space ship blasts off with Maezawa on board in 2021Ivan Timoshenko/Roscosmos Space Agency

At the top of the list were K-pop stars, actors and international DJs.

T.O.P., real name Choi Seung Hyun, is a South Korean rapper, singer and actor who rose to prominence in the K-pop group Big Bang. He’s starred in multiple Korean drama shows and films. Now, the artist is truly aiming for the stars as he joins Maezawa’s team.

“I feel great pride and responsibility in becoming the first Korean civilian going to the moon,” T.O.P. said in a video response.

Alongside T.O.P. is Steve Aoki, American DJ and record producer who has worked with an almost endless list of big names in the music industry.

“Since I was a little child I was dreaming of going to the moon. It's becoming more and more real every day. Still hard to believe but very excited and grateful for this amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To the moon!” Aoki said.

The Indian actor Dev Joshi was also among the list of stars set for space alongside Czech dancer Yemi A.D., US space YouTuber Tim Dodd, Irish photographer Rhiannon Adam, UK photographer Karim Iliya, and US filmmaker Brendan Hall.

There have also been two back-up crew members announced in case any of the current eight can’t make it.

They are US snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, and Japanese dancer Miyu.

“I can’t believe I’m a part of this amazing opportunity! Never in a million years did I think I would have the chance to fly around the moon!” Farrington said.

Well, it’s still only a chance as she’d need one of the previous eight to drop out before she can slice through the peaks of the Moon’s Sea of Tranquillity.