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More than 300,000 people applied to join a billionaire on a trip to the moon

More than 300,000 people have signed up for the chance to be one of eight to accompany a Japanese billionaire on a six-day trip around the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa invited people from around the world to apply for a place on the voyage, due to take place on SpaceX's Starship as early as 2023.

Among the hundreds of thousands of budding astronauts, space mad Britons have signed up in their thousands, ranking fifth out of all the countries involved.

SpaceX is testing prototypes of its Starship reusable launch vehicle, with the latest exploding just ten minutes after a succesful high-altitude flight and landing. 

The space firm described this as a success, explaining that it landed as expected and as a prototype, each test provides essential and valuable information. 

STARSHIP: ELON MUSK'S SOLUTION TO MARS TRAVEL 

The SpaceX CEO said Starship would take its first trip to Mars as early as 2024, carrying only cargo.

This would be followed by a manned mission in 2026 and he claimed other SpaceX's products would be 'cannibalised' to pay for it.

The rocket would be reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars or the Moon.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth - saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

SpaceX have tested ten different prototypes for Starship and have sent it six miles into the air, had it flip and then land - but it exploded ten minutes after making the landing. 

Applications to be a crew member of the dearMoon Project will remain open until March 14, the billionaire said, adding he bought all the seats on the spaceship.

'I want people from all kinds of backgrounds to join,' the 45-year-old said.

Applications are due by March 14 with screening complete by March 21, after which applicants will be given an assignment and and interview.

A final interview and medical checkup is then due to take place in May next year, before the eight people are selected.    

Maezawa had originally sought artists to accompany him on the trip, which was first announced in September 2018.

However, he decided to broaden the search to a 'more diverse audience', provided they are prepared to 'push the envelope' creatively and able to support other crew members 'who share similar aspirations'.

He had also proposed the idea of finding a 'girlfriend' to accompany him around the moon - with the journey turned into a television show.

But he canceled the hunt in January last year despite 27,722 women applying, saying he had reservations about the idea.

'Despite my genuine and honest determination toward the show, there was a part of me that still had mixed feelings about my participation,' he said at the time.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who bought all the tickets on SpaceX's first flight to the moon due in 2023, is seeking eight 'creative types' to join him on board

It is expected to take three days to reach the Moon, loop around it, and three days to return to Earth, Mr Maezawa said.

There will be between ten and 12 people on board the ship in total, including Yusaku Maezawa, SpaceX crew and the eight volunteers.

Maezawa and his band of astronauts will become the first lunar voyagers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972 - if SpaceX can pull the trip off.

It could be a close race with NASA though, as the US space agency is scheduled to launch Artemis II in the summer of 2023 - this will see a crew fly on the Orion spacecraft around the moon then journey back to Earth.

However, even if NASA does beat Maezawa to a 2023 lunar joyride, his passengers will still be the first civilians to go further than low Earth orbit.

The journey rests on the shoulders of SpaceX as it is dependent on Starship being flight ready by 2023 - which, with a series of landing explosions could be tricky. 

SpaceX carried out tests on its Starship SN10 rocket on Wednesday, the same model that will be used for the dearMoon Project, according to Mr Maezawa.

Although the prototype managed to touch down in Texas, minutes later it exploded and burst into flames.

'RIP SN10, honorable discharge,' SpaceX owner Elon Musk tweeted. 

ROCK DRUMMER TO BILLIONAIRE: WHO IS YUSAKU MAEZAWA?

An undated file photo shows Yusaku Maezawa, 42, the founder and CEO of Zozo, Japan's largest online fashion retailer

Before he became a billionaire fashion entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa was an indie rock band member who decided to skip college ‘after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes’ in Japan.

Born in 1975 in Chiba prefecture in Japan, Maezawa graduated from the prestigious Waseda Jitugyo High School in 1991.

It was there that he started SWITCH STYLE, an indie rock band which eventually released an EP in 1995.

After graduating, he followed his then-girlfriend to the United States, where he collected CDs and records of musicians he loved.

Born in 1975 in Chiba prefecture in Japan, Maezawa (seen above playing the drums) graduated from the prestigious Waseda Jitugyo High School in 1991. It was there that he started SWITCH STYLE, an indie rock band which eventually released an EP in 1995

In 1995, he returned to Japan and started an import CD and record mail-order business.

His business succeeded, and he began to branch out.

In 2000, he created an online retail business. That same year, his band signed with BMG Japan and debuted an album.

His company, Start Today Inc, also began to sell clothing.

In 2004, Start Today began Zozotown, the site made a killing selling clothes from shops such as Japanese boutique United Arrows and minimal French label A.P.C.

Zozotown’s success turned its founder, Maezawa, into one of Japan’s richest entrepreneurs, and its name adorns a baseball stadium.

Maezawa made his fortune by founding ZOZO, an online clothing retailer which he started in Japan and built into a billion-dollar business

The website set itself apart in its early days with a clean, uncluttered design and a slice of ‘Ura-Hara’ style - the modish fashion of the backstreets that line the trend-setting Harajuku district of Tokyo.

Business took off as fashion-conscious professionals in their late twenties and early thirties started using Zozotown to buy trendy but work-appropriate threads online from labels such as United Arrows and Nano Universe.

Its target is now broader, selling over 6,800 brands including clothes by Shimamura Co Ltd, one of Japan’s largest mass market chains. But industry executives say it still has an enviable cachet.

It continued to grow until 2007, when it went public and was listed in Tokyo Mothers Market.

In recent years, Maezawa has used his wealth to buy famous and pricey works of art.

In 2016, he spent $57.2million for a piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat. A year later, he shelled out a whopping $110.5million at auction in Sotheby's for another Basquiat piece - this one titled Untitled (as seen above)

In 2016, he spent $57.2million for a piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

A year later, he shelled out a whopping $110.5million at auction in Sotheby's for another Basquiat piece - this one titled Untitled.  

He’s also bought works by Christopher Wool, one of which he paid $13.9million, as well as Richard Prince.

In 2007, Maezawa spent $9.7million on Prince’s ‘Runaway Nurse’, which was a record.

He also paid $6.9million for ‘Lobster,’ by Jeff Koons.

Maezawa’s dream is to buy up works of art and display them in his own private museum in his hometown of Chiba prefecture.

Sources: Reuters, The Daily Beast

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