T.O.P, DJ Steve Aoki among crew for Japanese billionaire’s SpaceX trip to moon

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Friday named South Korean rapper T.O.P and DJ Steve Aoki among the eight artists and entertainers who will join him on a private SpaceX trip around the moon as early as next year. 

Maezawa, a 47-year-old entrepreneur also known as MZ, has bought every seat on the voyage, the first of its kind by the Elon Musk-owned company. It follows Maezawa’s 12-day trip to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last year. 

In addition to T.O.P — also known as Choi Seung Hyun, a former member of the K-pop group Big Bang — and Aoki, a Japanese-American musician, other crew members for what Maezawa calls the dearMoon Project include Indian actor Dev Joshi and American space YouTuber Tim Dodd.

“I genuinely still can’t believe it. It still hasn’t even sunk in yet — and I’ve known for quite awhile,” Dodd said in a video posted after the announcement.

U.S. Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu will be backup crew members for the trip, which has been years in the making.

“I hope each and every one will recognize the responsibility that comes with leaving the Earth, traveling to the moon and back,” Maezawa said in a video posted on his YouTube channel. “They will gain a lot from this experience, and I hope they will use that to contribute to the planet, to humanity.”

Maezawa, who founded the Japanese fashion retailer Zozo, has a taste for social media theatrics, offering cash prizes in the past in exchange for retweets. In 2020, he advertised on Twitter for a romantic partner to join him on the SpaceX lunar flight before calling off the search weeks later. 

In a recruitment announcement in March 2021, Maezawa said he wanted “people from all kinds of backgrounds” to join him on the trip around the moon. He said one million people had applied.

The eight-day mission aboard SpaceX’s Starship vehicle includes three days circling the moon, coming within about 125 miles of the surface. The flight was originally scheduled for 2023 but has faced testing delays.

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