Yusaku Maezawa, the first paying passenger to book a trip around the moon aboard the SpaceX spacecraft (still under development), has released a promised update on his mission. There’s still a flight date slated for 2023, and it’s still slated to fly a week-long trip around the moon and back. Now, however, Maezawa is looking for crew members. The full passenger list will include 10 to 12 crew members, Maezawa said in a video about the announcement, but eight will be selected from the public.
When the mission was first announced in 2018, Maezawa said he would bring between six and eight artists as co-astronauts to inspire them to create art based on the experience. That approach changed a bit as it realized that anyone who expresses any type of creativity can be considered an artist. There are now two criteria to choose from: first, that you excel at going into space, and second, that you can support the rest of the crew on the journey.
A billionaire serial entrepreneur, and artist himself, Maezawa paid for the entire trip himself, including the eight passenger seats he announced today that he would be giving them away for free.
Maezawa also explained the procedure for selecting crew members at a new location. It includes a pre-registration that ends on March 14th and then moves into a review process that ends on March 21st. There is one assignment that applicants must complete by March 21st and then there is an online interview component followed by a final interview and medical checkups are held at the end of May.
All of the above schedules are subject to change depending on the application microsite. Once the team is selected, 2022 and 2023 will focus on pre-flight training. There is now also a rough flight plan for the mission, which you can see in the graphic below. It’s not too detailed, but includes timestamps and an image showing the intended course will actually spin around the moon and then return.
One thing that is particularly missing from this call for passenger applications is the ill-advised and definitely creepy call for applicants to be Maezawa’s “life partner”. He made the request in 2020 and was looking for single women over the age of 20 to apply for a “match-making” from which he would select a romantic potential to join him on the trip, and in a documentation about the process. Maezawa reversed the course of the tactic before the end of the month he announced the program.
This isn’t the only trip into space with an open application process that, oddly enough, aims to get vacancies. There’s also Inspiration4, an orbital mission that SpaceX’s Dragon (which is already certified for human flight) will use and is set to launch as early as late 2021.