February 4, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

Japanese Billionaire Maezawa Picks K-Pop Star TOP DJ Steve Aoki For SpaceX’s Moon Voyage

STOCK PHOTO | Image by Lim Yaw Keong from Pixabay

TOKYO — Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced on Friday that K-pop star TOP and DJ Steve Aoki will be among eight crew members he plans to take on a trip around the moon as early as next year, and with one from Elon Musk hitchhiking on SpaceX rockets.

Maezawa bought every seat on the maiden voyage to the moon, which has been in the works since 2018 and would follow his trip on a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) for a 12-day layover last year.

The selection was announced by Maezawa on Twitter and on a website for what he called the #dearMoon project.

The fashion tycoon and his crew would become the first passengers on SpaceX’s moon flyby, while commercial firms including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin ushered in a new age of space travel for wealthy clients.

The mission aboard SpaceX’s Starship vehicle is scheduled to take eight days from launch to return to Earth, including three days to orbit the moon and get within 200 kilometers of the lunar surface. Although the flight was scheduled for 2023, there are delays due to ongoing tests of the spacecraft and its rockets.

Like fellow billionaire Musk, Maezawa has a penchant for promotion and is in love with Twitter — he boasted about holding the Guinness World Record for the most retweeted post when he presented 100 winners with a cash prize of 1 million yen ($7,300) for retweeting US dollars) offered it.

Maezawa used the microblogging site to recruit eight crew members from around the world for the lunar trip and said 1 million people applied.

TOP, the stage name of Choi Seung Hyun, who broke through with K-pop group Big Bang, is among the more well-known members along with Aoki, a Japanese-American musician and DJ whose father founded the Benihana restaurant chain.

“I feel great pride and responsibility to be the first Korean civilian to fly to the moon,” TOP said in a video released after the announcement.

Indian actor Dev Joshi was also among the favorites of the group, which consisted largely of artists and photographers. US Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu have been named as backup crew members.

Maezawa, 47, shared an update on the lunar expedition on Monday, tweeting that he had held an online meeting with Musk and was preparing a “big announcement about space.”

Maezawa made his fortune by founding online fashion retailer Zozo Inc., which incorporated Softbank Group Corp.’s 9984.T internet business. is now the largest shareholder. – Reuters