Since announcing his intentions to travel to the moon in 2023, the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has fluctuated in his choice of desired companions.
First, he wanted visionary artists, future Picassos and John Lennons. Then he searched for a “bright and positive” girlfriend to accompany him on the spaceflight. Scrapping those plans, he has now opened applications for eight seats in a rocket engineered by Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX.
A businessman who made his fortune in Japanese retail fashion, Mr. Maezawa, 45, gained prominence in 2018 when Mr. Musk introduced him as the first private customer to pay a “very significant deposit” for a trip around the moon. That was when Mr. Maezawa first shared his plan to select five to eight of “Earth’s top artists” as fellow passengers on the rocket, which he booked out completely.
On Wednesday, Mr. Maezawa said he would widen his search to include eight people around the world. “I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist,” he said in a YouTube video.
There are two broad criteria. Applicants have to be visionaries who seek to make the world a better place. They must also be “willing and able to support crew members who share similar aspirations.”
“Are you satisfied with what you’re doing right now? By going to space, could you do something that’s even better, even bigger?” Mr. Maezawa said. “If that sounds like you, please join me.”
There would be 10 to 12 people on the weeklong journey in space, he said, including those operating the rocket.
Mr. Maezawa has a history of attention-grabbing social media announcements. On New Year’s Eve in 2019, he offered to split more than $9 million among 1,000 randomly selected people who shared his post about it on Twitter, in what he described as a social experiment related to the concept of basic income. More than four million people entered the giveaway.
A few weeks later, he posted calls online for a “life partner” to join him in space and said his matchmaking quest would be the subject of a documentary. “Why not be the ‘first woman’ to travel to the moon?” he asked.
He called it off within the month, however, citing “mixed feelings” about the documentary, and apologized to the nearly 28,000 women who he said had applied with “earnest intentions and serious courage.”
Anyone responding to Mr. Maezawa’s latest call, for which applications are being accepted until March 14, would have to consider the risks of space travel. Two recent test flights for prototypes of Starship, the next-generation reusable spacecraft that SpaceX would use for the trip, ended in explosions.
But Mr. Musk, who last month raised $850 million in funding that increased SpaceX’s valuation to $74 billion, said on Wednesday that the rocket would be ready to carry Mr. Maezawa and his companions by 2023.
“We expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth,” Mr. Musk said. (The record was set in 1970 by the crew of NASA’s Apollo 13 mission, who traveled around the far side of the moon almost 250,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.)
Source : Nytimes