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Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats

(Maezawa paid an undisclosed sum for the right to join the lunar mission, currently scheduled for sometime in 2023. Photo: AFP)

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 around 2023, originally said he planned to invite six to eight artists to join him on the voyage.

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

“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 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.”

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 trip, 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 14th, with initial screening carried out by March 21st.

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

Maezawa and his band of merry astronauts will become the first lunar voyagers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972 — if SpaceX can pull the trip off.

Last month, a prototype of its Starship crashed in a fireball as it tried to land upright after a test flight, the second such accident, after the last prototype of the Starship met a similar fate in December.

The company hopes the reusable, 394-foot (120-metre) rocket system will one day carry crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

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