Sometime in 2023, a billionaire Japanese entrepreneur and a crew of eight artists and entertainers are set to blast off inside a SpaceX Starship on a mission set to take them "further than any human has gone before." The mission, known as dearMoon, is spearheaded by Yusaku Maezawa, who has paid an undisclosed sum to achieve his dream of going to the moon. He intended the dearMoon project to be something like a civilian art project, but we haven't had much of an idea who he might bring along. Until now.
The mission has changed a lot since it was first announced in 2018. Maezawa had planned to invite artists onboard the Starship and venture with them on a circuit around Earth's only natural satellite. But earlier this year, he changed the process and opened up spots to practically everyone, calling on budding lunar explorers to register for a ticket aboard the Starship and then produce videos on why they want to go to space.
On Thursday, Maezawa provided an update on some of the candidates whose videos have blown him away. He says there were over 1 million applicants from basically "every single country" across the world. You can see the video below.
It's quite a diverse crowd, with professional ballet dancers, actors, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, artists, Olympians and, yes, that's DJ Steve Aoki in there, too.
The applicants haven't been officially selected yet, and it's unclear exactly when Maezawa will make such an announcement, but this is the first indication of who might land a coveted spot on the return trip around the moon.
Before March 2021, the billionaire entrepreneur had also begun to develop a "matchmaking" TV show focused on finding a girlfriend he could take to the moon on the mission. After significant backlash online, Maezawa canceled the project.
With Richard Branson's recent trip to the edge of space in a Virgin Galactic space plane and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's upcoming lift off from the Earth, it seems like a pretty decent time to have accumulated enough wealth to briefly leave the planet. But the so-called "billionaire space race" has its detractors, with some calling the missions "vanity projects" and declaring them scientifically useless. In Maezawa's case, there's still a couple of years to sway public opinion.