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Japanese billionaire cancels lunar SpaceX voyage
Yusaku Maezawa strapped in ready for blast off on his spaceflight participant mission onboard a Russian Soyuz in 2021.
Japanese billionaire cancels lunar SpaceX voyage
by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (AFP) Jun 01, 2024

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said on Saturday he has cancelled his journey around the Moon on a SpaceX rocket, a voyage that had boasted an artist-filled crew, because of development delays.

Maezawa announced in 2018 the "dearMoon" lunar orbital mission, travelling on SpaceX's Starship rocket, which was scheduled to take place by the end of 2023.

However, the dearMoon's website said in November the project would be postponed "due to the on-going development of Starship".

Maezawa said on social media platform X on Saturday the mission had now been cancelled.

"At this point, there is no clear prospect when we will be able to lift off... I can't make plans of my own life and I feel sorry about keeping other crew members I invited waiting, so I decided to cancel after thinking hard," he said.

"I apologise for those who had been looking forward to" the project, Maezawa said.

A statement on dearMoon's website said there was no clear schedule after the 2023 launch had become "unfeasible", and so "it is with a heavy heart that Maezawa made the unavoidable decision to cancel the project".

"To all who have supported this project and looked forward to this endeavour, we sincerely appreciate it and apologise for this outcome," it said.

Maezawa bought all the seats aboard the rocket and created a competition in 2021 in which artists from around the world could apply to join him.

He chose a multinational crew of eight from about a million applicants: DJ and producer Steve Aoki, YouTuber Tim Dodd, artist Yemi AD, photographers Rhiannon Adam and Karim Iliya, filmmaker Brendan Hall, actor Dev Joshi, and K-pop musician TOP.

Snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and dancer Miyu were also listed as back-up crew members.

The planned trip was to have lasted about six days, according to the dearMoon website.

Maezawa, founder of Japan's largest online fashion mall, flew to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket in 2021.

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