Billionaire looking for 8 people to join him on first private trip around moon

A fashion tycoon has launched a search for eight people to join him on the first private trip around the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa originally planned to invite artists for the week-long voyage in 2023.

But he has now said: “If you see yourself as an artist, then you are an artist.”

The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14.

Budding astronauts will have to pass medical checks and an interview with Maezawa himself.

The Japanese entrepreneur is funding the voyage on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship.

He said: “I thought there might be delays but everything is on schedule.”

Two Starship prototypes have exploded in testing. A third test flight was planned to take place last night.

But Maezawa, 45, said: “Elon Musk says there is no problem and I believe him.”

Maezawa said he is not in training but is watching his alcohol intake and exercising while spending a few hours a week “mentally preparing”.

The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX's next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.

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Seeing the whole Earth and the far side of the moon would be highlights of the trip, said Maezawa, who had considered a trip the ISS before choosing the more ambitious moon voyage.

"This mission we expect people will go further than any  human has ever gone from Planet Earth," Musk said, days after SpaceX completed its latest $850 million fundraising, which has helped turn the businessman into one of the world's richest people.

Costs for the trip remain in line with the original contract with SpaceX, said Maezawa, who has declined to say how much that s, but says is more than his $110 million purchase of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.

Both Musk and Maezawa have built loyal followings on social media, with the latter's cash giveaways helping to make him Japan's most-followed Twitter account.

Maezawa, who recently introduced SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son to audio app Clubhouse, said he plans to feature mission preparation on his YouTube channel, which also offers videos of him playing golf in Hawaii and racing supercars.

Last year he launched a short-lived documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on the trip before pulling out citing "mixed feelings."

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