Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa has revealed that he will be taking a K-pop star and famous DJ on a SpaceX Starship flight around the moon. Jenny Southan reports

After Yusaku Maezawa bought every seat on the maiden lunar voyage with Elon Musk’s SpaceX back in 2018 for an undisclosed sum, he has now selected his eight co-passengers from a long list of more than one million applicants from around the world.

There were two main criteria for the mission: applicants should be seeking to “push the envelope” in their field of work by going to space “to help other people and greater society in some way”; and they should be willing to support their fellow crew members during the journey.

Among those chosen are TOP, the stage name of Choi Seung Hyun who broke out with the K-pop group Big Bang, and Steve Aoki, a Japanese-American musician and DJ whose father founded the Benihana restaurant chain.

“I feel great pride and responsibility in becoming the first Korean civilian going to the moon,” TOP said in a video posted after the announcement.

Indian actor Dev Joshi will also be aboard, along with Czech multi-disciplinary creative Yemi AD, Irish photographer Rhiannon Adam, American YouTuber Tim Dodd (aka Everyday Astronaut), British photographer Karim Iliya and American filmmaker Brendan Hall.

US Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu will be back-up passengers if anyone drops out.

“It will be fun for everyone to come together and see what everyone creates from this,” said Farrington.

“I can’t miss this opportunity – my soul is begging for this, it needs this,” said Aoki.

“I don’t know what is going to do to me emotionally and I guess that is part of the adventure,” said Dodd.

Maezawa, who is founder of Japan’s largest online fashion store, Zozotown, considers the unprecendented space tourism flight to be a kind of art project dubbed DearMoon, and consequently decided to give away eight free tickets to global culture-makers.

Last year, Maezawa paid to fly aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station for a 12-day stint with US company Space Adventures.

Maezawa his companions will become the first commecial passengers to fly with SpaceX around the moon. The mission is scheduled to take eight days including three days circling the moon, getting as close as 200km to the lunar surface.

Although the flight was scheduled for 2023, it is facing delays due to ongoing tests of the spacecraft and its rockets so it could be 2024 that it finally takes off.

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.