Eight regular Earthlings are to be invited aboard the first commercial flight to the moon in 2023, courtesy of Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. Those selected will travel aboard SpaceX’s Starship rocket, becoming the first humans to visit the moon since the Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972.
Maezawa – a fashion entrepreneur and art collector – was named as the first person to buy a ticket for the mission back in 2018. He has since snapped up all the available seats and now seeks to fill them with worthy candidates from around the world.
“I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride,” he explains in a video about the voyage. Dubbed dearMoon, the mission will see a total of 10 to 12 people travel further than any human in history, by looping around the moon and catching a rare glimpse of its dark side.
In 2019, Maezawa announced that he wanted to take eight artists along on the trip, but says that the plan has now evolved as the term “artist” is too ambiguous. “I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist,” he says.
He has therefore expanded the project to allow anyone to apply, as long as they satisfy two key criteria.
Firstly, Maezawa says that “whatever activity you are into, by going to space, I hope that you can push its envelope, to help other people and greater society in some way.” In other words, visiting the moon must help you raise your game and bring benefits to others.
In addition, applicants must be “willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.”
Anyone interested in applying has until March 14 to do so, with initial screening expected to be completed by March 21.
In early 2020, Maezawa announced that he was looking for a life partner to accompany him on his trip to the moon, and planned to track his search for love in a documentary series called “Full Moon Lovers”. Almost 28,000 women applied to take part, only for Maezawa to cancel the project shortly after its launch.
The dearMoon mission is expected to last just under a week, with Starship taking three days to reach the moon before completing a loop around it. It will then take a further three days to return to Earth. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, says he is “highly confident” the vessel will be ready to transport human passengers in time for the 2023 launch date.