It’s the kind of chance that only comes once in a blue moon: a Japanese billionaire opens a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world.

Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, was announced in 2018 as the first man to book a place on board the lunar spacecraft developed by SpaceX.

Maezawa, who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip, which is expected to start in 2023 at the earliest, originally said he planned to invite six to eight artists on a trip around the moon.

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

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

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

Maezawa, 45, said his original plan to invite artists “evolved” because he believed that “every single person who does something creative can be called an artist.”

The Japanese entrepreneur said applicants only need to meet two criteria: be willing to creatively “push the envelope” and be willing to help other crew members do the same.

In total, he said there will be about 10 to 12 people on board the spaceship, which is expected to revolve around the moon before returning to Earth.

The application schedule for spots on the trip stipulates that potential space travelers must pre-register by March 14th. The first review will be carried out by March 21st.

No deadlines are set for the next phases – a “task” and an online interview. However, according to Maezawa’s website, final interviews and medical exams are scheduled for late May 2021.

“Very confident”

Maezawa and his gang of astronauts will be the first moon travelers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972 – if SpaceX can make the trip.

Last month, a prototype of his spaceship crashed in a fireball while attempting to land upright after a test flight, the second such accident, after the last prototype of the spaceship suffered a similar fate in December.

However, the company hopes that the 120-meter reusable missile system will one day take crew and cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond.

“I am very confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transportation by 2023. It looks very promising,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in Maezawa’s video, the was released on Wednesday.

The mission will be the first private space flight beyond Earth orbit, Musk said.

Because it will not land on the moon, but will drag itself behind it, “we expect that people will go further than any human has ever walked from planet earth,” he added.

Known for his eccentric comments and flamboyant lifestyle, including his penchant for expensive art, Maezawa was valued at about $ 1.9 billion last year, making him one of the richest people in Japan.

He made his fortune as the founder of the online fashion business Zozo, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan in 2019.

Maezawa previously made headlines with an online advertisement for a friend who is supposed to accompany him on his SpaceX flight – only to abruptly cancel the hunt, despite attracting nearly 30,000 applicants.

The US space agency NASA plans to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, including the first woman.

One of the goals of his Artemis III voyage is to bring back a total of 85 kilograms of lunar samples – more than the average 64 kilograms that Apollo missions brought back between 1969 and 1972.

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