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Want to orbit the Moon? A Japanese billionaire is searching worldwide for 8 people to join his crew

The 'dearMoon' mission will look to liftoff in 2023 aboard SpaceX's Starship, which is still in development.
Credit: AP
Zozo Chief Executive Yusaku Maezawa poses for the media prior to his news conference in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. The Japanese online retail tycoon who plans to travel to the moon on the SpaceX rocket says he respects and trusts Elon Musk as a fellow entrepreneur, despite his recent troubles. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

A Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire is looking to take humans further into space than they've ever been before, and you could be one of them. 

Yusaku Maezawa announced on March 2 that he was looking for eight crew members from all over the world for a lunar mission in 2023 called "dearMoon."

The little more than a week-long journey around the Moon and back would mark the first-all civilian mission to go beyond the lunar surface.

"This mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said. 

It will also mark the first private spaceflight and first commercial spaceflight with humans beyond Earth orbit.

Maezawa's project will use SpaceX's Starship to carry an approximately 10-12 person crew. The company is currently testing prototypes, all of which have exploded, thus far.

Musk is optimistic that the spacecraft will be ready for liftoff come 2023.

"I'm very confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transport," he said.

The Japanese billionaire first bought all the seats in 2018. Now he's ready to build his crew. 

Registration is open until March 14 and can be completed on the dearMoon mission's website. But it appears competition is already pretty stiff. 

According to a tweet from Maezawa, who is "wishing to give as many talented individuals as possible the opportunity to go," more than 300,000 applications from 237 countries were submitted as of March 4.

Based on the mission's tentative schedule initial screening will occur on March 21, followed by assignments and an online interview. A final interview and medical check-up for those who make it through the process will happen in late May. 

DearMoon says it will select its final crew sometime before the end of June.

"I hope that together we can make it a fun trip," Maezawa said.

At first, he was looking to invite "artists" to join his crew, but over time the idea became more ambiguous and he chose to open up the process to everyone.

"I wanted to reach out to a wider more diverse audience, to give more people across the world the opportunity to join this journey," Maezawa added.

He's looking for two key criteria in his selection process: someone who can push the envelope of the activity they are interested in by going to space and someone who is willing to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.

Maezawa's reason for buying up the private flight to orbit the Moon? Well, there are a few. 

"What I'm most looking forward to is to see my home planet, the big blue Earth with my own eyes," he said. "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."

The mission's announcement comes one month after SpaceX announced the first all-civilian crew will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket to orbit Earth aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft in 2021.

That mission is called Inspiration4 and is also funded by a U.S. billionaire and entrepreneur Jared Isaacman who is donating the remaining seats alongside him to the general public.

You can learn more about the dearMoon mission and apply for a spot here.

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