A Japanese Billionaire Just Canceled His Private SpaceX Flight Around the Moon

One billionaire just said goodbye to his lunar adventure—for now.

Yusaku Maezawa, the founder of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer, has called off his planned trip around the moon on SpaceX’s Starship rocket, Digital Trends reported on Sunday. Back in 2018, the Japanese billionaire announced his intention to circumnavigate the moon alongside eight artists, including the likes of DJ Steve Aoki and YouTuber Tim Dodd. Back then, Maezawa had hoped to take off in 2023, but Starship’s flight has been delayed time and time again.

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“Unfortunately . . . launch within 2023 became unfeasible, and without clear schedule certainty in the near-term, it is with a heavy heart that Maezawa made the unavoidable decision to cancel the project,” reads a statement posted to the website for dearMoon, as the mission had been called. “To all who have supported this project and looked forward to this endeavor, we sincerely appreciate it and apologize for this outcome.”

Maezawa has long been interested in space exploration, and the businessman spent two weeks on the International Space Station in 2021, Digital Trends noted. He had wanted to carry out the first civilian trip around the moon on SpaceX’s craft, but Elon Musk’s company has come up against some roadblocks during testing: The first two test flights last year saw the Starship rocket explode. A third test, in March, was the most successful by far, but the rocket still burned up over the ocean upon its return to Earth.

A fourth test flight is scheduled for this week, which should give us a better idea of how the project is coming along. Still, while testing is being carried out, Maezawa seems to have decided that he can’t wait on Musk any longer. So he’s given up on SpaceX’s Starship—at least for now.

“Although dearMoon is cancelled, Maezawa and dearMoon crew members will continue to challenge themselves in their respective fields,” the note posted to the mission’s website added. “We will hold deep respect for SpaceX as they continue to venture into uncharted territories, while we ourselves will move on to the next challenge.”

Perhaps once SpaceX figures out its Starship problems, Maezawa will try for a lunar voyage once again. Until then, he’s stuck on Earth like the rest of us.

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