Billionaire offering ‘free ticket to the moon’ on SpaceX Starship

Click to play video: 'Yusaka Maezawa says he’s wanted to go to the moon since he was a kid'
Yusaka Maezawa says he’s wanted to go to the moon since he was a kid
WATCH: Japanese millionaire Yusaku Maezawa said in 2018 that he's wanted to go to the moon since he was a child, and that he'd bring artists from around the world on his trip – Sep 17, 2018

A Japanese billionaire is looking to fill some seats on his SpaceX rocket to the moon.

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Eccentric fashion designer Yusaku Maezawa has launched an international search for eight people to join him on the planned voyage around the moon, which Elon Musk hopes to accomplish as soon as 2023.

Maezawa, 45, announced the search on his Twitter account Tuesday in his latest high-stakes social media stunt. The announcement was short on details, but Maezawa has previously billed his “dearMoon” expedition as a trip that will include many artists.

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Maezawa confessed in a video on Tuesday that it can be hard to define an artist, so he wants to open up his criteria to a more “diverse audience” of potential passengers.

“Maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist,” he said. “If you see yourself as an artist, then you’re an artist.”

He says he’ll consider candidates for the mission from anywhere on the globe, provided they can meet two criteria:

  1. By going to space, you must be pushing the envelope in whatever activity you’re into.
  2. You have to be willing to support other crew members who share “similar aspirations.”

Maezawa says he will cover all costs for the trip, so he is essentially offering a “free ticket to the moon.”

Musk also touted his excitement for the journey in Maezawa’s video.

“We’re going to go past the moon,” he said. “We expect people will go farther than any human has ever gone from planet Earth.”

Potential passengers can sign up for details about the trip on Maezawa’s mission website.

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The registration form asks for your name, email and home country. It also allows you to upload a photo that it will automatically crop into the helmet of a spacesuit.

A blank crew card for Yusaku Maezawa’s ‘dearMoon’ mission is shown. dearMoon

A followup email says that further details about the screening process will be sent out on March 15.

Potential candidates will go through an initial screening process later this month, followed by an “assignment,” an “online interview” and a “final interview and medical checkup” in late May, according to the website. Details about the assignment and the judging process have not been released.

Maezawa, who runs the Japanese fashion brand Zozo, became the first person to pay for a trip to the moon when he signed up in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.

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He plans to bring 10 to 12 passengers on SpaceX’s Starship, which is still in its testing phase. The Starship is expected to fly to the moon over three days, loop around the far side of it and then fly back over another three days.

The journey is slated for 2023, although Musk still has some fine-tuning to do on his Starship design after two of the prototypes blew up in recent tests.

A third test flight was scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday.

Maezawa has a history of pulling high-stakes giveaways on Twitter. He once promised to give US$9 million to some of his followers as a “social experiment” to see if it’d boost their happiness.

He also used Twitter last year to launch an unsuccessful search for a girlfriend to accompany him to the moon. He had planned to turn the search into a Bachelor-style reality show for Japanese TV, but later backed out due to “mixed feelings.” He reportedly received about 27,000 applications for the show.

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Maezawa announced on Wednesday morning that he’s already received more than 100,000 signups for the trip. The No. 1 country for applicants was India, followed by Japan and the United States. Canada ranked No. 8.

Maezawa is not the only billionaire seeking passengers for a SpaceX voyage. U.S. entrepreneur Jared Isaacman is also putting together a four-person crew for the first all-civilian space flight into orbit later this year.

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