Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced on Tuesday that he would choose eight members of the public to join him on his trip around the moon, slated to fly on SpaceX’s Starship rocket in 2023.
“I invite you to join me on this mission,” Maezawa said in a video.Maezawa, who announced the mission in September 2018 alongside SpaceX founder Elon Musk, said the plan evolved from flying artists on a trip to lunar orbit. His project, called dearMoon, will now fly “10 to 12 people in all,” with eight crew members from members of the public that Maezawa plans to choose.
The billionaire says he will “pay for the whole trip,” so those who join him will fly for free. The dearMoon mission will take three days to fly to the moon, “loop behind it,” then spend three days returning, he said.
The dearMoon website indicates that “pre-registration” is open until March 14th. The pre-registration request asks for their name, country, e-mail address and a profile picture. An “initial screening” process begins on March 21, with a “final interview and medical examination” at the end of May.
There are two “key criteria” for anyone applying to fly with Maezawa: First, a potential passenger can move forward “whatever activity” they are in “by going into space”.“By going into space could you do something even better, even bigger?” Maezawa asked.
Second, the eight future astronauts must “be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations,” he said.
The SN9 spacecraft prototype is launched from the company’s development site in Boca Chica, Texas.
It’s been almost two and a half years since Maezawa made their original dearMoon announcement and the project has stayed true to its 2023 goal for the mission launch.In the meantime, SpaceX continued to work on the development of Starship. The rocket represents a next-generation vehicle that is key to Musk’s dreams of space exploration.
Musk aims for Starship to be fully reusable – not just the booster, which is the bottom part of the rocket – by landing and relaunching in a fashion more similar to a commercial airliner.SpaceX has yet to reach orbit with a Starship rocket, but it is rapidly building and testing prototypes at its facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
The company has successfully launched several prototypes of Starship, landing them safely after short flights at around 500 feet above sea level.Its last two high altitude flights, despite passing several development milestones, exploded on impact during landing attempts.
SpaceX has not disclosed how much it has spent on the Starship program to date, but Musk previously estimated that he expected it to cost the company around $5 billion.
Notably, SpaceX’s valuation has skyrocketed since Maezawa’s initial announcement, from around $ 25 billion at the time to around $ 74 billion last month.