Japanese billionaire seeks eight creatives for paid-for moon flight

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By Euronews  with AFP
Zozo founder Yusaku Maezawa attends a news conference Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Tokyo.
Zozo founder Yusaku Maezawa attends a news conference Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Tokyo.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has invited eight members of the public to an all-expense paid expedition to the moon. 

The online fashion tycoon, 45, had originally said he wanted to take eight artists along for the ride on SpaceX's Starship. In a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, he broadened the selection, affirming that "every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist.

"I'm inviting you to join me on this mission. Eight of you from all around the world," he said. "I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride."

Applicants will have to fill two criteria, he went on: being ready to "push the envelope" creatively and willing to help other crew members do the same.

In all, about 10 to 12 people are expected to take part in the expedition, which is expected to circumnavigate the moon before returning to Earth, Maezawa said.

The mission, named dearMoon, is scheduled for 2023 at the earliest. Applicants must pre-register by March 14 with final interviews and medical examinations scheduled for the end of May.

If successful, Maezawa and his guests will become the first lunar voyagers since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

But two prototypes of its Starship rocket have crashed on landing in recent months. However, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in the Twitter video that he is "very confident that we will reach orbital level with Starship before 2023 and that there will be sufficient safety for human flight in 2023."

SpaceX plans to launch its first space tourism mission in the fourth quarter of 2021, targeting low Earth orbit.

The mission, named Inspiration4, will use the Falcon 9 reusable space launcher and SpaceX's Crew Dragon space vehicle, already in use by NASA.

The mission will host U.S. billionaire Jared Isaacman, who has also donated three seats next to him. The first woman to be selected, announced at the end of February, is a 29-year-old American survivor of pediatric cancer.