March 2 (UPI) -- SpaceX will fly its deep-space rocket Starship in orbit "many, many times before 2023" and will take 12 people around the moon that year, the company's founder and CEO Elon Musk announced on Tuesday.
"It will be safe enough for human transport by 2023 -- it's looking very promising," Musk said in a video announcement with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
Maezawa and Musk fleshed out plans for the so-called dearMoon mission, which they first mentioned in a press conference in 2018. That's when Maezawa said he'd purchased a flight on the Starship moon/Mars rocket, before the first prototype had been built.
Maezawa originally intended to bring artists with him on the flight. On Tuesday, he said he has broadened his criteria for eight of his fellow passengers to include anyone who can accomplish something greater in their lives by going to space.
"By going to space could you do something that's even better, even bigger?" Maezawa said in the video. "If that sounds like you, please join me."
He added that all passengers on the flight also must agree to help the other passengers achieve that goal.
Maezawa also unveiled a website for the mission where would-be space travelers could pre-register and upload a photo of themselves on Tuesday and receive a souvenir that looks like a personalized ticket to the moon.
"It'll be the first private spaceflight, first commercial spaceflight with humans beyond Earth orbit," Musk said. "So this has never occurred before. We're gonna go past the moon, so it will actually end up being further than ... any human has ever gone."
Starship has flown twice and crashed in a fireball both times at SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Public notices in the small town indicated another Starship flight is scheduled for Wednesday.