Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, is working around-the-clock towards enabling humans to become multi-planetary. Engineers are in the initial phase of developing Starship, a massive two-stage launch vehicle that will one day be capable of transporting one hundred passengers to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The vehicle is under development at the Boca Chica beach launch facility in South Texas.
A Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, is helping to fund SpaceX's Starship development. He will be the first Starship passenger that will go on a voyage towards the moon. The one week space tour is planned for the year 2023 Starship will not land on the lunar surface, instead, the craft will fly on a circumlunar trajectory (around the moon) traveling 238,900 miles away from Earth.
Musk has mentioned on several occasions he feels thankful that Maezawa booked a space tour to help fund Starship's development because the payment Maezawa made for the flight was significant enough that it will “have a material effect on paying for cost and development of Starship,” Musk told reporters – “He's paying a lot of money that would help with the ship and its booster. [...] He's ultimately paying for the average citizen to travel to other planets.”
Maezawa envisions transforming his space tour into an art project, called “Dear Moon.” His inspiration to create the Dear Moon project came when he found himself imagining what his favorite artists would have created if they had the privilege to travel to space. “What if Picasso had gone to the Moon? Or Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson or John Lennon? What about Coco Chanel? These are all artists that I adore,” he said during the project's unveiling in September 2018.
It has not been made public which artists received an invite; all that is known is that he would like them to represent a variety of art fields, such as musicians, film directors, painters, designers, etc. “I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon. These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us,” he said. -- "After a press conference, we talked a lot at Elon's home. He said that it would be reliable if 1-2 astronauts will be on board," Maezawa stated in 2018.
The astronaut that could potentially join Maezawa during the week-long Dear Moon voyage could be Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. He is one of the four Crew-1 astronauts that will launch aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crewed flight to the International Space Station, scheduled for October 31.
Noguchi has been contemplating joining the artists aboard Starship's first crewed mission. Business Insider reports that he is in talks with Maezawa and SpaceX about joining the circumlunar voyage. "We've had a lot of discussions with him [and] his team. He has a very sincere interest in spaceflight," Noguchi told reporters, "Who knows? I may have a chance to fly." ---"I'm really looking forward to talking to him after this [Crew-1] mission," Noguchi said.
SpaceX Crew-1 Astronauts give a special name to the next Crew Dragon that will take flighthttps://t.co/H6aukUUBUD— Tesmanian.com (@Tesmanian_com) October 2, 2020