The COVID-19 pandemic has ruined many travel plans over the last 12 months, so if you’re looking for an incredible trip to make up for everything you’ve missed, how about a trip to the moon?
It’s no joke — and it’s free. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is looking for eight people to accompany him on his trip, which will be the first time civilians go to the moon.
It’s not happening until 2023, but that gives you plenty of time to get your head around the idea of flying to the moon aboard Elon Musk‘s SpaceX flight.
Maezawa, the founder and CEO of fashion retailer Zozo, opened applications for the opportunity on his dearMoon website this week. In an announcement video, he encouraged people “from all kinds of backgrounds” to apply.
“Get your FREE TICKET to the MOON!! 8 crew members wanted. Sign up today!” he wrote on Twitter.
— Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yousuckMZ) March 2, 2021
The fashion tycoon, 45, was the first private passenger to book a spot on Musk’s expedition — for an undisclosed price. Up to 12 people in total are expected to join the mission.
“I will pay for the entire journey. I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride,” Maezawa said. “I hope that together, we can make it a fun trip.”
He revealed that he originally planned to invite “artists” to join him, but changed his mind when he “began to think that every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist.”
He’s well known for outlandish publicity stunts. In February 2020, he called off his high-profile campaign to recruit a soulmate for the moon journey after getting applications from more than 27,000 potential romantic partners, reported CBS News.
The week-long mission will take place on the rocket “Starship,” which is currently in development. In February, an unpiloted test flight ended with a spectacular explosion when the rocket was unable to right itself and decelerate enough to land. But Maezawa still has faith in Musk and SpaceX.
In his YouTube video, Maezawa specified two key criteria for anybody interested in applying for the 2023 trip.
“First of all, whatever activity you are into, by going to space, I hope that you can push its envelope, to help other people and greater society in some way. I want someone with that kind of potential to take part,” he said. “By going to space, could you do something that’s even better, even bigger?”
The second criterion is being willing and able to support other crew members.
According to the website, pre-registration closes March 14, with initial screenings by March 21. The final interview and medical checkup are expected to take place by May.
On March 3, Maezawa revealed on Twitter that he’d received more than 100,000 applicants from more than 216 countries/territories, with most of them coming from India, Japan, the U.S. and the U.K.
【 #dearMoonCrew Applications Update】More than 100K applications from 216 countries + areas（As of 3/3 6:59AM PST）
TOP 10 countries
1. India 🇮🇳
2. Japan 🇯🇵
3. US 🇺🇸
4. UK 🇬🇧
5. France 🇫🇷
6. Mexico 🇲🇽
7. Spain 🇪🇸
8. Canada 🇨🇦
9. Indonesia 🇮🇩
10. Netherlands 🇳🇱
— Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) (@yousuckMZ) March 3, 2021
“We’re going to go past the moon, so it will actually end up being further, this mission, we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth,” Musk said in Tuesday’s video.
Maezawa also shared why he personally wants to go.
“I want to remind myself just how amazing our planet really is. I want to express my appreciation for this extraordinary planet I call home,” he said. “I want to be reminded of how small, how insignificant I am. In space I think I will realize anew how small I am, how much more I have to experience, how much harder I should work and how much more I can grow.”
He added that he was scared — but he was more curious.
There’s still time to apply; you can begin the process by pre-registering at the site. It requires filling out a simple form and sending in a profile picture. You’ll then receive an email about the application process.