SpaceX Starship to Take Civilians Where Civilians Never Went Before: to the dearMoon

In 2024, NASA is scheduled to return humans to the surface of the Moon with the Artemis III mission. One year before that, Artemis II should circle the satellite without touching down. Both missions are to be crewed by experienced astronauts. But not the dearMoon mission, which will carry civilians to the Moon and back on SpaceX hardware.
SpaceX Starship dearMoon mission rendering 21 photos
Photo: dearMoon
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Back in 2018, a guy named Yusaku Maezawa, owner of a Japanese online fashion retail giant called Zozotown and founder of the local Contemporary Art Foundation, paid an undisclosed fortune to earn the privilege to ride what was then known as the Big Falcon Rocket all the way to the Moon and back.

For a while, Maezawa looked left and right for people to go with him. At one point, he even tried to find a lady friend to accompany him to the stars, but he eventually gave that plan up.

You see, the man did not just pay for his own seat on the rocket (we now call that rocket Starship), but for the entire damn thing. That would be a seat for himself, eight seats for an equal number of civilians, and one or two seats for crew members.

So, a total of at least ten people, the largest number ever sent to space on a single mission, and only a fraction of the planned capacity of 100 humans the Starship should be capable of carrying in Mars-going configuration.

SpaceX Starship dearMoon Mission
Photo: dearMoon
Maezawa himself dubbed his mission dearMoon, and if successful, it will go down in history as the longest (both in terms of distance and time) trip ever taken by civilians, and it will also probably open the doors for true space tourism, not the kind Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are promising.

In March 2021, Maezawa announced he wants to “give as many talented individuals as possible the opportunity to go” on dearMoon, so he launched a social-media call to arms. By the end of June, the selection of the eight civilians was completed (after combing through some 1 million entries), although we don’t know many of their names yet.

We do know most of them are artists (the Japanese man owns an art foundation, remember?), who will be taken to the sky to find inspiration and create something new.

Although not much news comes out of the dearMoon headquarters, the timeline of the mission shows how throughout next year the civilian crew will be undergoing training in preparation for their trip to the space one year later.

SpaceX spacesuit
Photo: dearMoon
Now, all this dearMoon experiment of course is dependent on the Starship being ready by then. To date, SpaceX has flown only prototypes inside the atmosphere, trying to make the damn thing land properly. They eventually did, and are now planning an orbital flight sometime over the next few weeks.

The ship that will be used for the orbital mission will, of course, not be the one that will go to the Moon. That one will be much larger, offering something on the lines of 35,000 cubic feet (1,000 cubic meters) of pressurized volume, divided into common areas, galley, and a solar storm shelter. For parts of the trip, the people onboard would be wearing the SpaceX spacesuits we all know by now. As per the current details of the dearMoon mission, the entire flight around the Moon should take about six days.

Before he goes to the Moon accompanied by artists, though, Maezawa is scheduled to head to the International Space Station in December this year, after he paid probably another fortune to be taken up there by a company called Space Adventures onboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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