Japanese billionaire seeks 8 people for free Moon ride

San Francisco: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has invited eight people to join him for a free Moon voyage on SpaceX Starship rocket sometime in 2023.

In a video, Maezawa who is the founder of Japan's largest online fashion retailer Zozotown, said that he wants people from all backgrounds to join. "It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting 8 people to come along on the ride," he said in the YouTube video.

The Japanese billionaire has started a contest for the public where everyone who pre-registers will receive an email about the selection process. Maezawa said he will pay for the entire journey and those eight people will fly with him for free.

"I will pay for the entire journey. I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride," he added. The mission, called 'Dear Moon', is scheduled to fly in 2023. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced him as the first passenger to the Moon on his Starship rocket way back in 2018.

Maezawa who is an avid art collector, then announced his Dear Moon Project, aimed to bring "six to eight artists from around the world" to join him in a six-day lunar flyby mission.

"These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us," Maezawa had said.

In the new video, he said said that plan has since evolved and "maybe every single person is doing something creative could be called an artist."

Planned for 2023, the ‘Dear Moon' mission would be the first lunar journey by humans since 1972. Starship is SpaceX's ambitious spacecraft to take humans to the Red Planet.

The company has been working on prototypes to find the right design that will work for the transport. SpaceX has also announced world's first all-civilian mission to space at the end of 2021 in a charity-driven mission named Inspiration4, commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman.

SpaceX will chose three people to ride alongside Isaacman to orbit the planet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule every 90 minutes along a customised flight path. Upon conclusion of the multi-day journey, Dragon will reenter Earth's atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida.

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