Featured Image Source: Gravitation Innovation
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 stainless-steel, spaceship-rocket duo that will one day be capable of transporting one hundred passengers to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
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; It will be the first lunar journey by humans since 1972. 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.
Maezawa envisions transforming his first space tour into an art project, called “Dear Moon.” He 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.
Maezawa has not made public which artists received an invite but 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.
Earlier this year, Musk shared a beautiful render of a musician playing violin in micro-gravity. "Starship Concerto in Zero G," he wrote.
Source: SpaceX / Elon Musk
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.”
SpaceX teams are currently developing Starship in South Texas at a facility located in a small village called Boca Chica Beach. Engineers are manufacturing multiple stainless-steel prototypes of the craft, which are undergoing testing one after the other. Earlier this month, a first large-scale prototype of Starship, dubbed SN5, conducted a low-altitude test flight of 150-meters, video below. SN5’s successful flight showcased SpaceX’s engineers’ ability to develop a spacecraft that can launch and land flawlessly powered by a single Raptor engine. Now, teams are preparing to test out the next Starship in line, SN6, which will fly on a similar trajectory, before taking a full-scale Starship on higher-altitude, 20 to 100 kilometer test flights. SN6 could take flight as soon as next week. Each test flight takes the company closer towards launching a Starship to orbit.
STARSHIP SN5 TEST FLIGHT
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.