The final frontier
More than five years after Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa stood alongside SpaceX founder Elon Musk and announced his intent to become the first private citizen to fly around the moon, the since-named "dearMoon" mission on Friday named a roster of photographers, actors, musicians, and internet personalities set to join Maezawa on his journey.
In a short video introducing the newly-announced crew, acclaimed DJ Steve Aoki — one of the eight civilians tapped to participate in the lunar orbit — said "my soul is begging for this, it needs this."
Joining Aoki and Maezawa are K-Pop star Choi Seung Hyun, YouTuber and space exploration enthusiast Tim Dodd, and photographer Rhiannon Adam, who said she hopes to use the trip to "create work that does justice to this transformative experience."
According to the public schedule posted to the dearMoon website, the mission is planning to launch sometime in the coming year. It will use SpaceX's "Starship" vehicle powered by its Super Heavy Rocket, which has, to date, not begun testing. As Gizmodo notes, SpaceX is currently under a nearly $3 billion dollar contract with NASA to demonstrate lunar landing feasibility for its Starship program by 2025.
"I'm very thrilled to have these amazing people join me on my journey to the moon," Maezawa, who became one of the few "space tourists" after visiting the International Space Station in 2021, said in a brief statement. "And [I'm] excited to see what inspiring creations they come up with in space."