Thursday, April 22, 2021 | 03:40 am

SpaceX: Japanese Billionaire Seeks Eight People to Join His Crew for Trip Around the Moon

SpaceX: Japanese Billionaire Seeks Eight People to Join His Crew for Trip Around the Moon

A Japanese billionaire has launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa will be taking the trip with Elon Musk‘s SpaceX in 2023.

He had originally planned to invite artists for the week-long voyage, but has changed the project to “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,” he said in his call to arms.

The first stage of the selection process ends on 14 March, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Mr. Maezawa.

The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying for 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 Mr. Maezawa in an interview.

Two recent Starship prototypes have exploded during testing, underscoring the risks for the 45-year-old and his fellow passengers, who 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 Mr. Maezawa.

SpaceX ferried four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in November on its Falcon 9 rocket, but Musk harbors ambitions of his company offering commercial voyages.

He said that this mission would send people “further than any human has ever gone from Planet Earth” and has completed his latest fundraising of $850m (£609m).

Mr. 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.

Seeing the whole Earth and the far side of the moon would be highlights of the trip, said Mr. Maezawa, who had considered a trip to the ISS before choosing the more ambitious moon voyage.

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.