Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has picked his companions for SpaceX's first all-civilian mission to the Moon over a year after he put out a call for potential private astronauts. He chose eight crew members and two backups from various backgrounds to be part of the mission called "dearMoon," and while application was open to everyone, some of the names will likely stand out when you review the list. One of the people flying with Maezawa on SpaceX's Starship spacecraft is Choi Seung Hyun, better known as T.O.P. from the Korean boy band BIGBANG.
DJ Steve Aoki is also part of the crew, as well as Tim Dodd, who's known for creating space-themed content as a photographer and host of YouTube channel Everyday Astronaut. The other crew members include Rhiannon Adam, a photographic artist from Ireland who now works in London and the US, and Yemi A.D., a designer, director, choreographer and non-profit org founder from the Czech Republic. Brendan Hall, a filmmaker who directed projects for National Geographic, Karim Iliya, a filmmaker who documents whales, birds and other threatened species, and Dev D. Joshi, an actor from India, round up the main crew list. Meanwhile, snowboarding Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu were named as backup crew.
Maezawa said the project received about a million applications from interested individuals around the world who went through a strict selection process. The inclusion of musicians and other creatives doesn't come as a surprise, since the billionaire originally intended to bring artists with him on the trip in hopes that it would inspire them to create something that promotes world peace. He didn't say why he chose T.O.P. specifically, but the star did rap at an astronaut for one of BIGBANG's music videos.
The dearMoon project was launched in 2018 after Maezawa purchased all the seats for a six-day trip to the Moon from SpaceX. It will fly a single circumlunar trajectory around Earth's faithful companion and is expected to take place sometime next year, though the actual date depends on Starship's development. To prepare for the dearMoon mission, Maezawa flew to the ISS last year and spent 12 days on the flying lab shooting videos about life in space.