A group of nine people plan to fly a unique mission around the moon.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced on Dec. 8, 2022 the nine crew members, including himself, who would orbit the moon in a SpaceX Starship. The flight date has not been confirmed yet.
Maezwawa invited artists around the world to apply for the opportunity, and has said that there are no scientific experiments or other responsibilities for these individuals aside from basic mission safety obligations.
“I hope each and every one will recognize the responsibility that comes with leaving the Earth, travelling to the moon and back,” Maezawa said in the announcement video in Japanese, with a translation provided in-video.
Singers, dancers, a YouTube personality and sports participants are among the eight crew members and two backup members selected for the flight. Read more about them below; their biographies are based upon information on the dearMoon website (opens in new tab).
1. Yusaku Maezawa, billlionaire fashion retailer
Yusaku Maezawa, age 47 when the dearMoon crew was announced, is a Japanese billionaire who made his fortune as an online fashion retailer. He is underwriting the cost of dearMoon, but how much he is paying has not been disclosed.
The dearMoon project was announced in 2018 in collaboration with SpaceX, following a controversial “girlfriend contest” for a now-defunct space mission. The applications for dearMoon opened in August 2021 with no specific qualification requirements posted at the time, aside from artistic aspirations.
Maezawa flew to space already for 12 days in December 2021, paying for seats to and from the International Space Station for himself and his videographer, Yozo Hirano; different Russian cosmonauts flew him in a Soyuz spacecraft during launch and landing.
2. Rhiannon Adam, photographer
Rhiannon Adam, 37 at the time of selection, is an Irish-born photographic artist who splits her time between London and the United States. She has been nomadic since 1992, when her parents bought a sailboat (nammed Jannes) to sail around the world. Her studies have included Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and at the University of Cambridge. Awards include the Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography and one of The Photographers’ Gallery’s New Talents in 2019.
“Rhiannon’s work is centered on research-based, long-form, social documentary projects that make use of analogue photographic processes and archive materials. Her early life experiences have had a lasting influence on her work, with a focus on remote communities, the concept of utopia, and the fine line between fact and fiction,” the dearMoon website states.
3. Steve Aoki, D.J./producer
Steve Aoki, 45 at the time of selection, is a Miami-born music producer, artist, fashion designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder of record label Dim Mak, know for acts like The Chainsmokers and Bloody Beetroots. His artist collaborations include BTS, Maluma, Snoop Dogg, Linkin Park and more.
Aoki’s honors include the Guinness World Record as the “Most Travelled Musician in a Single Calendar Year” in 2012. His performances have been featured at Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival and Coachella. He also dabbles in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a controversial form of establishing art ownership through blockchain technology.
4. Yemi A.D., multidisciplinary creative
Yemi A.D., 41 at the time of selection, was born in the former Czechoslovakia to a Czech mother and Nigerian father in 1981. Yemi describes himself as a “multidisciplinary creative force, social innovator and choreographer.”
He has designed, choreographed and directed shows and campaigns for Apple, Google, Mercedes Benz, the VMA’s, SNL and CBS and is also the founder of JAD Productions, a multiple-award winning creative production company. Yemi was appointed Czech Goodwill Ambassador in 2019 and is founder of Moonshot Platform, a U.S. non-profit supporting young leaders.
4. Tim Dodd, YouTuber / “Everyday Astronaut” founder
Tim Dodd, 35 at the time of selection, is an Iowa-born content creator, photographer, videographer and musician. He began “Everyday Astronaut” in 2013 as a photography project and expanded it to YouTube in 2017, where he regularly conducts livestreams and interviews (particularly SpaceX)
“Tim’s mission is to ‘Bring space down to Earth for everyday people’,” his dearMoon biography states. “He specializes in digesting complex aerospace topics and making them more understandable for the average person through deeply researched and highly visual videos.”
5. Brendan Hall, documentary filmmaker
Brendan Hall, 28 at the time of selection, is a Connecticut-born documentary filmmaker focusing on nature. “His projects have brought viewers on adventures that explore the frontiers of our human spirit, from following a remote medical expedition through the Amazon rainforest to scientists unearthing wooly mammoth bones in Siberia,” his dearMoon biography states.
Hall is a graduate of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and has contributed to National Geographic Channel, Google, Adobe and the Nature Conservancy. His cinematography has appeared on Netflix and in the PBS 2017 documentary “Bill Nye: Science Guy” following a popular 1990s children’s show, among others. Hall’s first feature-length documentary will include “personal stories” from various U.S. national parks.
6. Karim Iliya, photographer and filmmaker
Karim Iliya, 32 at the time of selection, is a nomadic photographer, filmmaker and whale swimming guide. His childhood homes included the Middle East and Asia. His passion for nature has “brought him alongside battling whales, amidst exploding volcanoes, deep within the ice worlds of the Arctic, and into many of the fascinating places that humans and animals make their home,” his dearMoon biography states.
Iliya documents threatened species, such as whales and birds, as an ecosystem advocate and has worked in more than 45 countries. His work has appeared in National Geographic Magazine and BBC Earth, among others. He also co-founded Kogia, a non-profit media library and film group focusing on ocean conservation.
7. TOP / Choi Seung Hyun, musician
TOP, aka Choi Seung Hyun, was 35 at the time of selection. He is a South Korean-born rapper, musician, film actor and art collector.
He first became known to the music scene in 2007, lead rapping the K-pop group Bigbang. He also is known for his solo artist work and his films, including “Into the Fire” and “Tazza: The Hidden Card”, among others.
TOP’s art collecting has included collaborations with Sotheby’s, the famous art auction house. He recently launched his own wine brand as well.
8. Dev D. Joshi, actor
Dev D. Joshi, 22 at the time of selection, is an Indian-born professional actor and social media influencer. He has been performing since age 3 in areas like television, regional cinema, music albums, stage shows and advertisements. He is best known for portraying child Indian superhero “Ball Veer.”
His awards include the “Bal Shakti Puraskar” from the President of India, which is the highest Indian civilian order for individuals under the age of 18. Joshi is founder of the non-governmental organization D3 Caring Social Club and is pursuing a masters degree in international affairs and diplomacy from the United Nations Institute of Training and Research.
9 Kaitlyn Farrington (backup), Olympic snowboarder
Kaitlyn Farrington, 32 at the time of selection, is an Idaho-born snowboard competitor. Selected as a member of the U.S. snowboard team at age 17, she won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2014 in showboard halfpipe. She retired eight months later after being diagnosed with congenital cervical stenosis, a spinal condition.
“For Kaitlyn, this was a hard reality, having to give up something she loved too much and redefine herself in the snowboard community,” Farrington’s biography states. “She now spends most of her time backcountry snowboarding, which she likes to call adventure snowboarding. Kaitlyn is currently taking online classes pursuing a degree in business communication.”
9. Miyu (backup), dancer
Miyu, 25 at the time of selection, is a Japanese professional dancer, choreographer, and movement practitioner. She has performed around the world, and is particularly proud of a show that she did at the Cotton Club in Tokyo that sold out several times.
“Miyu has spent the past decade educating, inspiring, and connecting people through dance and movement all over the world,” her dearMoon biography states, adding. “Miyu proves time and time again that as an artist, anything is possible when kindness, grace, and humility are your driving force..”
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).