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Eight artists are chosen for a trip around the moon

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

YUSAKU MAEZAWA: Finally, I can tell you that I choose to go to the moon with artists.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa announced the dearMoon mission in 2018. The fashion executive wants to take a group of creatives with him on a six-day trip powered by SpaceX's Starship spacecraft. The goal is to inspire great works of art for humankind. He asks, what if Jean-Michel Basquiat had gone to space? What masterpieces might he have created?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

And now he's selected his eight-person crew from a pool of 1 million applicants. So let's meet them, starting with the man Maezawa hopes will serve as a leader for the mission, international DJ Steve Aoki, speaking here on a promo video.

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STEVE AOKI: I can't miss this opportunity. My soul is begging for this.

TIM DODD: I don't know what it's going to do to me emotionally, and I guess that's part of the adventure.

SHAPIRO: That's Tim Dodd. He teaches rocket science on YouTube and has seen the explosions of four Starship prototypes. So he's a little scared, but he trusts the design will be reliable by the time they take off.

SUMMERS: Twenty-two-year-old Dev Joshi is an Indian actor. Like Maezawa and the other crew members, he's dreaming about the artistic possibilities this trip could inspire.

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DEV JOSHI: To create something unimagined yet, we need to experience something unexplored yet.

SHAPIRO: Irish photographer Rhiannon Adam is also excited to gain a new perspective on this adventure.

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RHIANNON ADAM: I spend a lot of my life working with very remote communities, and it felt like a natural thing to do to apply to go to space and explore the most remote community ever, which would be us in space.

SUMMERS: Choreographer Yemi A.D. will also be part of that most remote community.

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YEMI A D: It's a huge privilege but not only for me as a Czech person but also for me as a Nigerian person.

SHAPIRO: So will filmmaker Brendan Hall and photographer Karim Elias.

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BRENDAN HALL: Some of the most important nights of my life were spent trying to capture the wonder of the night sky. I never even dreamed of actually going up there.

KARIM ILIYA: I expect that I will come back as a vastly different person.

SUMMERS: And the final member of the eight-member crew is the rapper known as T.O.P from the K-Pop group Big Bang. This trip is a dream come true for him.

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T O P: I have always fantasized about space and the moon since I was young.

SHAPIRO: There is no set date yet for this mission. The rocket is still in development, and the team has to undergo training before they go to space. But Maezawa says it could happen as early as next year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (NIGHTMARE)")

KID CUDI: (Singing) I'm on the pursuit of happiness. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mia Venkat
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.