Japanese Billionaire Chooses Crewmates for Trip Around the Moon, Date TBD

Japanese Billionaire Chooses Crewmates for Trip Around the Moon, Date TBD

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who bought all the seats on SpaceX’s first crewed Starship flight around the Moon, announced who his companions will be today. Not included was any indication of when they will set off on their 7-day lunar voyage. Maezawa decided to try flying to Earth orbit before making the trip to the Moon and today’s big reveal comes on the one-year anniversary of his launch to the International Space Station.

Maezawa, who goes by MZ, and SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk made headlines in 2018 when the deal was made public. MZ calls it the Dear Moon project and in March 2021 invited people around the world to apply to join him on the trip. Eight seats were available out of a total of 10-12 people who will be aboard.

Today he named eight primary and two backup crew members to join him out of more than one million applicants. They are from a number of countries with a variety of backgrounds based on information in a press release circulated by SpaceX.


One name is quite familiar in space circles, Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut), who posts videos and commentary especially about SpaceX’s Starship development efforts. He posted one today about his selection for this trip.

MZ and his production assistant Yozo Hirano spent 12 days aboard the ISS one year ago, traveling on Russia’s Soyuz MS-20 with professional cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

When MZ bought the flight to the Moon it was anticipated in 2023, but that seems very unlikely.

Starship hasn’t flown yet and the date for the first attempt to reach Earth orbit continues to slip. Musk has said he will launch Starship many times before putting people onboard.

The first time Starship does take a crew to space, it will be to Earth orbit. Another billionaire, American Jared Isaacman, bought all the seats on that one.  No date has been set for that, either.

Isaacman ushered in the era of private astronaut missions to orbit when he paid for and flew on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in 2021 on the Inspiration4 mission with three others. Earlier this year he bought two more Crew Dragon flights plus the Starship ride, all part of what he calls the Polaris program.  The first of the Crew Dragon missions is expected next year.

Axiom Space also launched a private astronaut mission on Crew Dragon. They visited the ISS earlier this year and the company is planning more.

The prices being paid for these missions are not public, but it seems there’s quite a market for private astronaut flights to orbit and beyond. While there is criticism that billionaires are the only ones who can afford to fly, in fact Isaacman and MZ are paying for people of more modest means to go with them.

Private astronauts are not the only ones eager for Starship to take flight. NASA selected Starship as the Human Landing System to take NASA astronauts from lunar orbit down to and back from the surface on Artemis III, the first time astronauts will set foot on the Moon since the Apollo program. It is currently scheduled for late 2025 and NASA recently added a second Starship HLS mission for Artemis IV.


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