Billionaire space tourist cancels lunar flight amid changing SpaceX priorities

'I can't plan my future' with a Starship launch date still uncertain, Yusaku Maezawa wrote.


Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire who signed up for a lunar orbit flight aboard SpaceX's Starship back in 2018, has cancelled his trip. The reason, he said in a series of posts on X, is that Starship is still in development and the "dearMoon" launch may not occur until well into the 2030s.

"I signed the contract in 2018 based on the assumption that dearMoon would launch by the end of 2023," he wrote. "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."

Maezawa announced the dearMoon project with Elon Musk at SpaceX's Hawthorne factory in 2018. He reportedly paid the company in the order of low nine figures to help fund it and later selected eight other companions for the trip, including artists, photographers, YouTubers and a member of a Korean boy band.

However, Starship development was slower than expected, as has been the case with nearly every rocket development program ever. The first test flight was just a year ago, and the first fully successful launch (with the vehicle remaining intact) only took place a few months ago. The next flight is set to launch as early as June 5.

In addition, SpaceX's priorities changed drastically when NASA selected Starship for its Artemis program. That forced the company to deprioritize dearMoon, which meant it was not likely to take place until the early 2030s. Maezawa's net worth as also dropped since the 2018 announcement, as Ars Technica noted. On top of all that, the billionaire has already gone to space, having spent 12 days aboard the International Space Station.