Yusaku Maezawa opens public seats on SpaceX Starship lunar flight


Japanese billionaire businessman Yusaku Maezawa speaks at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced Tuesday that he will choose eight members of the public to accompany him on his trip around the moon, scheduled 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 along with SpaceX founder Elon Musk, said the plan has evolved from flying artists on a trip to lunar orbit.

His project, called dearMoon, will now fly “10 to 12 people in total,” with eight of the crew coming from members of the public Maezawa plans to cast.

The billionaire says he will “pay for the entire trip,” so those who join him will fly for free. Maezawa made his fortune after founding this fashion retail company Zozotown, which he resigned in 2019 after selling a majority stake to SoftBank.

It will take the dearMoon mission three days to fly to the moon, turn behind it in orbit, and then spend three days returning. Musk added that in addition to the historic first as a private lunar mission, the rocket’s flight path means it will go beyond the distance traveled by the Apollo missions.

“We hope that people will get further on this mission than any human being has ever gone from planet Earth,” Musk said.

The mission flight plan.

dear moon

The dearMoon website says “pre-registration” is open until March 14. The pre-registration application asks for your name, country, email address, and a profile photo. An “initial evaluation” process begins on March 21, with a “final interview and medical check-up” in late May.

There are two “key criteria” for anyone applying to fly with Maezawa: First, that a prospective passenger can advance “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 aspiring 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 facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Spacex

It has been almost two and a half years since Maezawa made his original dearMoon announcement and the project has remained on its 2023 target for the mission launch.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has 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 completely reusable, not just the thruster, which is the bottom of the rocket, when landing and relaunching in a manner more similar to a commercial jet.

SpaceX has yet to reach orbit with a Starship rocket, but is rapidly building and testing prototypes at its Boca Chica, Texas facility. The company has successfully launched multiple Starship prototypes, landing them safely after short flights at around 500 feet elevation.

Its two most recent high-altitude flights, despite passing multiple 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 expects it to cost the company around $ 5 billion to complete.

In particular, SpaceX’s valuation has skyrocketed since Maezawa’s original announcement, from around $ 25 billion at the time to around $ 74 billion last month.

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