Starship's First Passenger Finds New Avenues in Space Exploration
In statement via X, Japanese tycoon and space enthusiast's planned lunar orbital mission "dearMoon" is set for a delay amid uncertainty over SpaceX's moon expedition flight date.
As Elon Musk readies for another attempt at launching his Starship rocket after its April 2023 failure, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, initially slated for its first passenger flight, is turning his attention to other space ventures.
Maezawa, the founder of the online clothing giant Zozo Inc., had aspired to embark on a lunar voyage this year aboard Musk's Starship. Accompanying him would be a curated ensemble of personalities - painters, singers, and pop artistes.
In 2018, Musk selected Maezawa for this ambitious Starship flight. However, the Japanese billionaire recently acknowledged a change in plans on X on November 9, 2023. While he stopped short of announcing a new launch date, this delay opens new avenues for his space-related pursuits.
Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is eyeing a second uncrewed test flight for Starship early this week, pending approval from US regulators.
The postponement of the lunar mission gives Maezawa extra time to focus on other extraterrestrial ambitions, such as clearing space debris and developing an Earth simulation system using satellite data.
© Photo : Yusaku Maezawa (MZ)/ TwitterScreenshot of Yusaku Maezawa's tweet
Screenshot of Yusaku Maezawa's tweet
© Photo : Yusaku Maezawa (MZ)/ Twitter
His foray into orbital cleanup initiatives includes a $23 million investment in Astroscale Holdings Inc., a pioneering Japanese startup addressing the concern of space junk, like spoilt satellites and residual rocket parts. The funding round, exceeding $76 million, saw participation from heavyweights like Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsubishi Electric, and the Development Bank of Japan. "I want to protect the future of space travel," Maezawa disclosed to media outlets, underscoring his commitment to sustainable space exploration.
While Maezawa's dream of circling the moon aboard the Starship awaits fruition, his partnership with Astroscale might soon witness a milestone. Astroscale is collaborating with Rocket Lab USA Inc., one of Musk's chief competitors, to launch the world's inaugural debris inspection expedition.
Last month, Astroscale dispatched a satellite to Rocket Lab's New Zealand base, gearing up for a launch planned before year-end on an Electron rocket. However, Rocket Lab's launches have been on hold since a September failure, with a hopeful resumption slated for November 28, 2023.
Maezawa's space endeavors do not stop there. In August 2022, he invested in Space Data Co., a Tokyo-based startup aiming to revolutionize how we utilize satellite data. They aim to develop artificial intelligence capable of recreating the Earth in virtual reality, offering unprecedented insights into our planet.