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SpaceX moon flight: Japanese billionaire wants eight people to join him

A Japanese billionaire who abandoned plans to take a lucky lady to the moon and back is now seeking eight friends to share in the adventure instead. 

Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, announced on Twitter that he is seeking creative types from around the world to take part in the six-day voyage.

Applicants will need to fulfill just two criteria to be selected, Maezawa said: Be ready to 'push the envelope' creatively and encourage others on board to do the same.

The mission, which will be flown by Elon Musk's SpaceX, is due to be the first commercial trip around the moon when it launches in 2023.

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

Maezawa paid an undisclosed sum for all the tickets on board the SpaceX craft in 2018, and has since been trying to find someone to go with him.

In 2019 he launched a search for a female companion to accompany him - with his search and the eventual journey due to be 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.

Last month he teased that another announcement about the trip was coming, before revealing his search for eight new crew mates.

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 previously tried to find a lucky lady to share the trip aboard SpaceX's Starship rocket (pictured), but called off the hunt last year saying he had 'reservations' 

The six-day mission is due to take place in 2023, though two prototypes of the rocket due to carry Maezawa and his companions have so far crashed and exploded

Initially, 45-year-old Maezawa said he was seeking 'artists' to join him in space but expanded the definition because 'every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist.'

 In all, he said around 10 to 12 people will be on board the spaceship, which is expected to loop around the Moon before returning to Earth.

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.

Last month, a prototype of its Starship crashed in a fireball as it tried to land upright after a test flight, the second such accident, after the last prototype of the Starship met a similar fate in December.

But the company hopes the reusable, 394-foot (120-metre) rocket system will one day carry crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

'I'm highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023. It's looking very promising,' SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in Maezawa's video posted Wednesday.

The mission will be the first private space flight beyond Earth's orbit, Musk said.

SpaceX owner Elon Musk says he is very confident Starship will be safe for human transport by 2023, when Maezawa will be blasted off inside the ship

Because it will not land on the Moon, but loop behind it, 'we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth,' he added.

He made his fortune as founder of online fashion store Zozo, which he sold to Yahoo! Japan in 2019.

Maezawa has previously made headlines with an online ad for a girlfriend to join him on his SpaceX flight -- only to abruptly cancel the hunt, despite attracting nearly 30,000 applicants.

US space agency NASA is intending to land astronauts on the Moon, including the first woman, in 2024.

One of the goals of its Artemis III voyage is to bring back a total of 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of lunar samples -- more than the average 64 kilograms brought back by Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972.

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