Japanese billionaire seeks 8 people to join crew for trip around the moon

Yasmine Salam and Arata Yamamoto
·2 min read

Frank Sinatra sang about flying to the Moon, but a Japanese billionaire is offering a lunar trip to eight would-be astronauts in real life.

Eccentric fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa is looking for applicants from around the world to take a seat on a trip on Elon Musk's SpaceX flight in 2023.

Maezawa shared the application details on Twitter Wednesday morning. He appealed for people to apply "from all kinds of backgrounds," in a video posted to YouTube.

Maezawa, 45, has promised to cover the costs for those selected in his mission, titled dearMoon.

The billionaire and CEO of Japanese fashion retailer Zozo was the first private passenger to book a spot on the Elon Musk's space expedition in 2018 for an undisclosed amount.

Image: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa poses with his T-shirt bearing an image of Earth during an interview (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)
Image: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa poses with his T-shirt bearing an image of Earth during an interview (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

Approximately 12 people in total will fly around the moon and back on the week-long voyage, Maezawa said.

"I have bought all the seats so it will be a private ride," he added.

Originally Maezawa had planned to invite six to eight artists to join him but on Wednesday he revealed he would be broadening the pool of applicants.

"I wanted to reach out to a wider more diverse audience," he said, speaking from his home in Chiba, Japan. "If you see yourself as an artist then you are an artist."

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Known for his high spending on art and sports, Maezawa is no stranger to publicity stunts and has a penchant for musing on ideas, such as a world without money.

Last year, the moonstruck billionaire had hoped to find a romantic partner for the lunar adventure, before calling the search off after having developed "mixed feelings." Roughly 27,000 women had already signed up to participate in a matchmaking documentary on Japanese TV.

Maezawa also promised to give away the equivalent of $9 million to his Twitter followers in what he called a "social experiment" to see if the extra cash would boost happiness in 2020.

In Wednesday's video appeal, the entrepreneur sat behind a painting of crows and herons by Hasegawa Tōhaku — one of Japan's most prominent artists — and spread his arms to mimic a bird spreading its wings.

The specifics of the selection criteria remain unclear. The application link asks for basic details before disclosing the admission process.

In his video the entrepreneur said applicants would be judged on their ability to "push the envelope" creatively, and willing to help other crew members do the same.

The mission would mark the first lunar journey by humans since 1972.

"I'm a little scared. But I'm more curious," he said, expressing full trust in Elon Musk's technology.