Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats

TOKYO (AFP) – It’s the sort of chance that comes along just once in a blue Moon: a Japanese billionaire is throwing open a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world. Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, was announced in 2018 as the first man to book a spot aboard the lunar spaceship being developed by SpaceX.

Maezawa, who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip expected to launch in 2023 at the earliest, originally said he planned to invite six to eight artistes to join him on the voyage around the Moon.

But yesterday, in a video posted on his Twitter account, he revealed a broader application process.

“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,” he added. Maezawa, 45, said his initial plan of inviting artists had “evolved” because he came to believe that “every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist”.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, the first private passenger who will fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR launch vehicle, posing with a model rocket and space helmet prior to a press conference in Tokyo on October 9, 2018. PHOTO: AP

The Japanese entrepreneur said applicants would need to fulfil just two criteria: being ready to “push the envelope” creatively, and being willing to help other crew members do the same.

In all, he said around 10 to 12 people will be on board the spaceship, which is expected to loop around the Moon before returning to Earth. The application timeline for spots on the trip calls for would-be space travellers to pre-register by March 14, with initial screening carried out by March 21.

No deadlines are given for the next stages – an “assignment” and an online interview – but final interviews and medical check-ups are currently scheduled for late May 2021, according to Maezawa’s website.