Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has kicked off a global contest to select eight crew members to join him on a private SpaceX flight around the moon in 2023. The first such mission was conducted on a commercial basis. “It will be 10 to 12 people in all, but I will be inviting eight people to come along on the ride,” the founder and former chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo Inc. said in a video.

“I hope that together we can make it a fun trip,” he said, adding that he is looking for ‘people from all kinds of backgrounds to join’ the six-day journey around the moon. Maezawa said he would pick the eight based on how they would use the trip to ‘push the envelope’ in their respective fields and their willingness to support other crew members.

Maezawa and his band of astronauts will become the first lunar voyagers since the last US Apollo mission in 1972 — if SpaceX can pull the trip off. Last month, a prototype of its Starship crashed in a fireball as it tried to land upright after a test flight, the second such accident after the latest prototype of the Starship met a similar fate in December.

But the company hopes the reusable, 394-foot (120-metre) rocket system will one day carry crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. “I’m highly confident that we will have reached orbit many times with Starship before 2023 and that it will be safe enough for human transport by 2023. It’s looking very promising,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in Maezawa’s video posted Wednesday, adding that the mission will be the first private space flight beyond Earth’s orbit. He continued, “Because it will not land on the Moon, but loop behind it, we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth.” he added.