Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has thrown open a private lunar voyage to eight people from across the globe. The online fashion tycoon has launched the search for eight lucky ones to join him as the first passenger on a journey around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX.
The entrepreneur has paid for the entire trip himself, comprising eight passenger seats he said he'd be giving away for free. Maezawa was the first man to reserve a spot aboard the lunar spaceship, which is still in development, in 2018.
The billionaire, who ponied up an undisclosed amount for the trip slated for 2023, initially said that he contrived to invite six to eight artists to join him as co-astronauts on the expedition.
However, on Wednesday, March 3, Maezawa posted a video on his Twitter handle, where he disclosed a broader application process.
"I'm inviting you to join me on dis mission. Eight of you from all around the world," he said. "I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride," Maezawa added.
The rejigged project will "give more people from around the globe the chance to join this journey. If you see yourself as an artist, then you are an artist," the Japanese entrepreneur further stated.
The applicants, Maezawa said, would be required to fulfill two criteria: ready to "push the envelope" creatively, and disposed towards helping other crew members do the same.
The entire passenger list will comprise 10 to 12 crew members, eight out of which will be picked from the general public.
The first stage of the application process runs to March 14, wherein the candidates can pre-register to book their spots.
Following this, the initial screening process will be carried out by March 21. There is also an assignment that applicants need to complete by the said date (March 21).
The next stage involves an online interview, followed by final interviews and medical checkups to take place late in May, according to Maezawa's website, which added that the above timeline is subject to change.
The Japanese billionaire and his crew of astronauts will become the first lunar travelers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972, if SpaceX manages to accomplish this feat.
The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX`s next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
Two recent prototypes have exploded during testing, underscoring the risks for Maezawa, 45, and his fellow passengers, who must also contend with the strains of space travel in the first private journey beyond Earth's orbit.
"This mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from Planet Earth," Musk said, days after SpaceX completed its latest $850 million fundraising, which has helped turn the businessman into one of the world's richest people.
Maezawa is known for his art and supercar collections, and the cash giveaways that have made him Japan's most-followed Twitter account. Last year he launched a short-lived documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on the trip before pulling out citing "mixed feelings."