Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has revealed the eight-person crew that will join him on a trip around the Moon.
The wealthy entrepreneur, with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, purchased all the SpaceX Starship seats in 2018, in what’s slated to be the first lunar flyby for the spaceship. In March 2021, Maezawa invited people to apply for a chance to come along for the ride on what he calls the “dearMoon” mission.
On Friday, Maezawa announced the eight people he had selected from more than one million applicants. The dearMoon crew members include DJ Steve Aoki, Everyday Astronaut YouTuber Tim Dodd (who provides commentary on spaceflight news and developments), and South Korean pop star T.O.P. from the boyband Big Bang. Other crew members are mostly artists and photographers from different parts of the world.
“I’m very thrilled to have these amazing people join me on my journey to the Moon,” Maezawa wrote on the mission website. “And excited to see what inspiring creations they come up with in space.” For Maezawa, this will mark his second stint in space, the first being a trip to the ISS in 2021.
Maezawa isn’t the only wealthy space enthusiast using his funds to fly civilians to space. Billionaire Jared Isaacman commanded the Inspiration 4 crew, which launched on September 16, 2021 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Isaacman had also bought all four seats on board the three-day journey to space, marking the first all-civilian mission to Earth orbit. The billionaire tech entrepreneur is gearing up for another private trip to space as part of the Polaris Dawn mission, the first of three flights on board a SpaceX rocket purchased by Isaacman. Earlier this year, Dennis and Akiko Tito were announced as the first passengers for SpaceX’s second commercial spaceflight around the Moon.
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Space is seemingly addictive, and it’s clear that the curator of the dearMoon mission can’t wait to get there as well. The dearMoon mission is scheduled to take place in 2023, but that timeline feels a little tight at the moment. SpaceX’s Starship has yet to perform its first orbital flight and is currently undergoing tests at the company’s Texas Starbase.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been eager to see Starship fly, promising different dates for its inaugural flight. The dearMoon mission would be a test of Starship’s true capabilities, a reusable, super heavy-lift launch vehicle that’s poised to land on the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. As per a $2.89 billion contract with NASA, the company needs to demonstrate that Starship can land humans on the Moon by late 2025. For dearMoon, however, the spacecraft won’t need to perform a lunar landing.
SpaceX still has an outstanding list of regulatory requirements that it needs to fulfill in order to get a license from the Federal Aviation Administration, and it’s not yet clear whether the company has completed them.
Whenever it does take place, the dearMoon mission will take civilians beyond any previous private mission. It does seem to be a super exclusive list of people that get to experience the journey, so whether the mission will make space more accessible or not is still yet to be seen. Oh, and someone should probably inform the crew that Starship won’t be equipped with an abort system should an anomaly occur during launch.