Want to fly to the Moon for free? Japan billionaire offers space seats

Tokyo: 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.

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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.

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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.

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But on Wednesday, in a video posted on his Twitter account, he revealed a broader application process.

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“I’m inviting you to join me on this mission. Eight of you from all around the world,” he said.

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“I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride,” he added.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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