TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Wednesday launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
He had originally planned to invite artists to the weekly trip planned for 2023.
The rejected project will “give more people from all over the world the chance to join this journey. If you see yourself as an artist, you are an artist, ”said Maezawa.
The first phase of the selection process runs until March 1
The founder, who sold his online fashion company Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, pays the full travel cost of SpaceX’s next-generation reusable launch vehicle, called Starship.
“I thought there might be delays, but everything is on schedule,” Maezawa said in an interview.
Two recent Starship prototypes have exploded during testing, underlining the risk to Maezawa, 45, and his fellow passengers, who also have to contend with the noise of space travel in the first private voyage beyond Earth’s orbit.
“Elon Musk says there’s no problem, and I believe him,” Maezawa said. SpaceX ferried four astronauts to the International Space Station in November on its Falcon 9 rocket.
Maezawa said he is not in training – which he expects to take a few months at most – but looks at alcohol intake and exercises while spending a few hours a week assessing the assignment.
“I’m only preparing mentally,” said the fashion guru, wearing a Dior shirt over a T-shirt depicting the iconic 1968 Earthrise image.
Seeing the entire earth and the other side of the moon would be the highlights of the trip, said Maezawa, who had considered an ISS trip before choosing the more ambitious lunar journey.
“This mission we expect people to go further than any human has ever left Planet Earth,” Musk said, days after SpaceX completed its latest $ 850 million fundraiser, helping to make the businessman one of the world’s richest humans. .
The cost of the trip is still in line with the original contract with SpaceX, said Maezawa, who has refused to say how much it is, but says is more than his $ 110 million purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.
Both Musk and Maezawa have built loyal follow-ups on social media, with the latter’s cash gift cards helping to make him Japan’s most followed Twitter account.
Maezawa, who recently introduced SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son to the audio app Clubhouse, said he plans to present quests on his YouTube channel, which also offers videos of him playing golf in Hawaii and racing supercars.
Last year, he launched a short-lived documentary search for a new girlfriend to join the tour before pulling out with reference to “mixed feelings.”
Reporting by Sam Nussey; Cut by Gerry Doyle