Yusaku Maezawa
Yusaku Maezawa

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa cancels SpaceX Lunar flight citing delays

What To Know

  • He cited the ongoing development of Starship and the uncertainty surrounding the “dearMoon” launch, which may not occur until well into the 2030s, as his reasons for the cancellation.
  • In a series of posts on X, Maezawa explained, “I signed the contract in 2018 based on the assumption that dearMoon would launch by the end of 2023.
  • It’s a developmental project, so it is what it is, but it is still uncertain as to when Starship can launch.
  • The first test flight occurred just a year ago, and the first fully successful launch, with the vehicle remaining intact, happened only a few months ago.

Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire who initially signed up for a lunar orbit flight aboard SpaceX’s Starship in 2018, has decided to cancel his trip.

He cited the ongoing development of Starship and the uncertainty surrounding the “dearMoon” launch, which may not occur until well into the 2030s, as his reasons for the cancellation.

In a series of posts on X, Maezawa explained, “I signed the contract in 2018 based on the assumption that dearMoon would launch by the end of 2023. It’s a developmental project, so it is what it is, but it is still uncertain as to when Starship can launch. I can’t plan my future in this situation, and I feel terrible making the crew members wait longer. I apologize to those who were excited for this project to happen.”

The dearMoon project was announced by Maezawa and Elon Musk at SpaceX’s Hawthorne factory in 2018. Maezawa reportedly paid a substantial amount, in the low nine figures, to fund the initiative. He later chose eight companions for the trip, including artists, photographers, YouTubers, and a member of a Korean boy band.

However, the development of Starship has progressed slower than anticipated, a common occurrence in rocket development programs. The first test flight occurred just a year ago, and the first fully successful launch, with the vehicle remaining intact, happened only a few months ago. The next flight is scheduled to launch as early as June 5.

Furthermore, SpaceX’s priorities shifted significantly when NASA selected Starship for its Artemis program, causing the company to deprioritize dearMoon. This shift in focus suggested that the dearMoon mission would likely be delayed until the early 2030s.

Maezawa’s net worth has also declined since the project’s initial announcement, as noted by Ars Technica. Additionally, the billionaire has already experienced space travel, having spent 12 days aboard the International Space Station.