Just this year alone, SpaceX has successfully launched at least 17 rocket missions to date. These missions include launches to place satellites in orbit, multiple missions to resupply the international space station, and even a test launch putting a Tesla Roadster into earth’s orbit.
Despite the legal issues Elon Musk is currently facing, SpaceX is still pushing to find the limits of what space exploration has to offer. Via a Youtube live stream on September 17th, Musk announced that Japanese billionaire, entrepreneur, and art curator, Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private citizen to purchase a trip around the moon.
Founder of the largest Japanese online fashion retailer, Zozotown, Maezawa is especially known for his ever-expanding and expensive art collection. It’s no surprise then that the Japanese mogul wants to be accompanied by some of the world’s top artists for this historic voyage.
While the cost for one passenger has not been disclosed, the “Big Falcon Rocket” (BFR) that is currently in development for this flight is expected to cost between $2 billion and $10 billion to complete. In reference to Maezawa’s seat, Musk says his purchase makes a “meaningful contribution to the project’s completion.” SpaceX expects the shuttle to be completed and ready for the trip by 2023.
Potential delays aside, Musk and the SpaceX team are hard at work with more than 60 launch missions already completed since the company’s founding in 2002 and scores of future scheduled flights. One very important flight scheduled for April 2019 is the test flight of Space X’s “Dragon” capsule that will ultimately return human spaceflight ability to the United States since the NASA shuttle program was retired back in 2011.
While Maezawa’s #DearMoon project isn’t the most scientifically rigorous of reason to pursue space travel, it very much lines up with Musk’s vision of making space travel as commonplace as air travel. While humanity’s initial strides into space were categorized by the ideological posturing and competition of the cold war, it is refreshing to see art as a means of being people together, take the helm in this very unique and massive undertaking.