Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has invited the public to join him on a six-day trip to the moon as part of SpaceX’s “dearMoon” project.
Bankrolling the mission, Maezawa says he intends to select eight members of the public on SpaceX’s under-development Starship for a round-trip journey to the moon. “I will pay for the entire journey. I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride,” said Maezawa in a video released on March 2.
Announced in 2018 by Maezawa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the dearMoon project initially planned to invite artists to be the first civilians ever to enter space. What constituted “artist” was never clearly defined, something Maezawa acknowledged in the recent promotional video was difficult for even him to determine. “I began to wonder… Who do I mean by artists? A singer? A Dancer? A writer? The more I thought about it, the more ambiguous it became.”
Now, Maezawa says the initial plans have evolved, and he wants to allow anyone in the world a chance to join him on a journey to the Moon. According to Maezawa, to be selected for a trip to Earth’s satellite, a person must meet two broad, key criteria.
“Whatever activity you are into, by going to space, I hope that you can push its envelope, to help other people and greater society in some way.”
“You have to be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.”
Not only will the eight selected members of the public be the first civilians in space, but the trip will also represent the furthest humans have ever traveled from the Earth.
“What’s really significant about the dearMoon mission is that it will be the first private spaceflight, first commercial spaceflight with humans beyond Earth orbit. So this has never occurred before, and we’re going to go past the moon. This mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet earth,” said SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.
Who is dearMOON’S Yusaku Maezawa?
In January 2020, Maezawa held a contest to find a “female partner” to accompany him on the trip to the Moon. Over 27,000 women applied for the opportunity, and Japanese streaming service AbemaTV planned to document the journey in a reality TV show called Full Moon Lovers.
Less than two weeks after announcing the search for a fly-by-moon girlfriend, Maezawa canceled the contest for “personal reasons,” apologizing to AbemaTV and all of the applicants.
An avid art collector, part of Maezawa’s initial requirement for artists on the dearMoon mission would be to create works based on their space experience. In 2016, Maezawa paid $57.3 million for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The following year, he purchased another Basquiat piece for $110.5 million.
Elon Musk said he’s “highly confident” SpaceX’s Starship will be ready and have reached orbit “many times” before the 2023 planned departure of dearMoon. “It will be safe enough for human transport by 2023. It’s looking very, very promising.”
According to the company’s website, early as Wednesday, March 3, SpaceX will attempt a high-altitude flight test of Starship, marking the third high-altitude suborbital flight test of the prototype reusable spacecraft.
The selection process for the dearMoon mission is yet to be clearly defined. However, Maezawa says everyone across the world is welcome to apply to join the lunar mission.
According to the dearMoon website, applicants must complete pre-registration by March 14 at 6:59 (PST). After initial screening, assignment, online interviews, final interviews, and medical checkup, dearMoon says it intends to have the eight crew members selected for the mission by the end of June 2021.
Once selected, crew members will begin training to prepare for the launch into space, which is presently scheduled for sometime in 2023. DearMoon notes schedules for crew selection, training, and eventual lift-off, are all subject to change.
For those interested in applying to be one of the first civilians in space, or for more information about the project, you can visit the dearMoon website here.
Encouraging people of all backgrounds to apply, “Are you satisfied with what you’re doing right now?” ask Maezawa. “By going to space, could you do something that’s even better, even bigger? If that sounds like you, please join me.”