Featured Image Source: Gravitation Innovation / SpaceX Elon Musk
SpaceX’s first Starship passenger will be Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese entrepreneur who is helping to fund the spacecraft’s development. SpaceX aims to have a space-ready Starship by 2023 to launch him alongside a group of artists on a voyage around the Moon. Maezawa calls the mission ‘Dear Moon,’ It will be the first lunar journey by humans since 1972. However, Starship will not land on the lunar surface, the vehicle will fly on a week-long circumlunar trajectory (around the moon) traveling approximately 240,000 miles away from Earth. Maezawa says 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.
To date, Maezawa has not made public who will ride aboard Starship with him. All that is known is that he would like to take artists who represent a variety of art fields, such as: musicians, film directors, painters, writers, 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. Earlier this year, the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk shared a beautiful render of a musician playing violin in micro-gravity -"Starship Concerto in Zero G," he wrote.
Image Source: Elon Musk via Twitter
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 Dear Moon mission 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.”
“Long-term, there will be thousands and eventually, hopefully, millions of [Starship] missions & anyone will be able to go,” Musk said in 2018. Besides taking humanity back to the Moon and transporting the first settlers to Mars, a variant of Starship will be used for point-to-point travel around Earth.
(Elon Musk with Yusaku Maezawa in shown in the photo linked below.)
Long-term, there will be thousands and eventually, hopefully, millions of missions & anyone will be able to go— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 18, 2018
SpaceX teams are currently developing Starship in South Texas at a facility located in a small village called Boca Chica Beach, along the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers are manufacturing multiple stainless-steel prototypes of the spacecraft which are undergoing testing one after the other. Earlier this month, a large-scale prototype of Starship, known as ‘SN8’, performed the first high-altitude test flight above Boca Chica (video below).
Starship landing flip maneuver pic.twitter.com/QuD9HwZ9CX— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 10, 2020
On December 9, engineers launched the Starship SN8 prototype into an altitude of approximately 40,000 feet (12-kilometers) powered by a trio of Raptor engines. Starship SN8 performed the “first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver. Together these will enable landing where no runways exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” the company stated after the flight test. SpaceX is now preparing to test launch the next prototype, Starship SN9, which is currently undergoing preflight testing. We could see another Starship take flight as early as January next year. Good Luck to SpaceX! You can watch SpaceX operations Live in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
SpaceX South Texas Launch Facility Live 24/7
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.