SpaceX's Dear Moon Mission: The First Private Lunar Mission

Insaf Ali

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SpaceX’s Dear Moon Project is a Lunatoriza mission that’s been circulating the internet which was conceived and is being financed by the Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

The mission will make use of SpaceX’s Starship and will go on a private space flight flying a single circular trajectory around the moon. The passengers will in fact be Mayazawa himself and a number of other individuals.

The project was initially unveiled in 2018 and the flight itself is scheduled to occur in 2023. According to the Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa civilians will travel around the moon in 2023 and while he’s currently bankrolling the Dear Moon mission he intends to take a group of about eight people to the moon on SpaceX's starship.

The Dear Moon mission will carry those eight people and loop around the earth’s natural satellites for close to six days. The project which was announced by the billionaire and Elon Musk was originally designed to invite artists from around the world to the experience although the criteria for artists was not clearly defined.

In a recent promotional video, Maezawa himself announced that the Dear Moon project would be open to practically everyone across the globe who wishes to share the experience.

The Japanese billionaire said, “I began to think that maybe every single person who is doing something creative could be called an artist.”

There are majorly two criteria for the civilian passengers and the criteria look fairly flexible.

The first millionaire said, “whatever activity you are into by going to space I hope that you can push its envelope to help other people and greater society in some way.”

He further gave the second criteria as you have to be willing and able to support other crew members who share similar aspirations.

In total the Japanese millionaire said that about 10 to 12 people will be on board for the first flight around the moon. The billionaire entrepreneur also started to build a matchmaking tv show based on finding a girlfriend whom he could take to the moon on the Dear Moon mission but Maezawa eventually canceled the project shortly after its announcement.

Elon Musk himself has made other comments in promotion of the Dear Moon mission and he said that the mission will take people further than any human has ever gone away from planet earth.

This mission seems to hold significance because the Starship will fly past the moon and loop around it before heading back to earth.

Musk said that he is highly confident that the Starship will have gotten into orbit many many times before 2023 and that it will already be safe enough for human transportation by the end of the mission and by the time the mission is ready to launch.

Interestingly, we all know that Elon Musk is prone to making several kinds of claims regarding deadlines and eventually missing them, in fact, the Starship prototypes are yet to achieve a significant landing, and the next prototype is scheduled to fly and land in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the selection process is yet to be easily defined for Dear moon. The schedules on the website appear to select crew selection for later in the year.

The Dear Moon website had it that the pre-registration opens until March 14th and then the pre-registration application needs a name, country, email, address, and a profile picture. It also states that the initial screening process begins with the final interview of medical checkups in late May.

Willing civilians can pre-register and await further instructions on flight schedules and plans. The project’s objective lies in having people travel with Maezawa around the moon on a six-day tour.

Maezawa admittedly expects that the experience of space tourism will easily inspire people to create new art.

In 2017 Maezawa had previously contacted SpaceX for a lunar flyby in a very similar smaller spacecraft The Dragon 2 with two passengers. Had the plan gone through it would have been launched by a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, however, the new Starship might as well be what the company in Maezawa had been waiting for.

The SpaceX announcement in the beginning months of 2018 said the Falcon Heavy journey was shelved due to the development of Starship. The Japanese billionaire is the founder of Zozo town a fashion retail company which he later resigned from and later solved to SoftBank and he particularly mentioned that he will pay for the entire journey therefore those who fly with him will go for free.

The Dear Moon mission that will take three days to fly to the moon will see the spacecraft loop behind the moon in orbit and then further spend close to three days coming back to earth.

The mission will be the first private lunar mission and the Rocket’s flight path has suggested that it will travel beyond the distance covering the Apollo missions.

Elon Musk said this mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet earth. At the time of the first-ever announcement, the Crew Dragon 2 capsule was very much under development and the Falcon Heavy had still not taken flight.

A number of industry analysts even noted that the schedule proposed by the company might be rather too ambitious. Due to the fact that the capsule was expected to require some modifications necessary to handle differences in the flight profile such as the proposed lunar flight and its main use of transferring crew members to space stations orbiting the earth.

SpaceX subsequently announced that it no longer had plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight and that lunar missions would be flown on Starship known as BFR at the time.

The company further announced that the previously contracted passenger flight would soon be launched aboard a Starship to fly by the moon in 2023.

Starship itself will have large common areas a solar storm shelter central storage and a galley. As a matter of fact, another SpaceX mission plans to transport civilians to space very soon and it’s known as inspiration 4 which plans to send humans to orbit aboard a SpaceX crew dragon.

It will lift off on top of a Falcon 9 and has also been bankrolled by another billionaire Jared Isaacman just so you all know this could be launched by the end of the year.

Starship as we know it is SpaceX's next-generation and fully reusable starship. As we rightly know is SpaceX's next-generation and fully reusable Mars rocket system designed to carry humans and close to 100 tons of cargo on future missions deep into orbit.

Only prototypes of the rocket have been able to fly till this moment. Where about one of the two recent high altitude tests reaches as high as six miles over the company’s Starship facilities in Boca Chica Texas.

Unfortunately, both of those test flights concluded in a fire explosion during their landing attempts.

Maezawa’s announcement really did not give any detail on how the selected astronauts would train for the mission, however, he declared that the undisclosed ticket price will be on him.

He further said I will pay for the entire journey I have bought all the seats so it will be a private ride. Following a very rigorous and bumpy development timeline, Elon Musk’s SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell mentioned that Starship’s first orbital flight could be at the end of 2021 and last year Musk said that starship would need to do hundreds of missions with satellites before they put people aboard. This further calls the 2023 proposed moon journey into question.

The company’s got another crew vehicle, crew dragon, that is already in its operational phase is getting booked for future flights with private astronauts and tourists. The capsule shipped like an acorn flew a first two crew of astronauts to the international space station under NASA’s commercial crew program.

With delight, the private astronaut missions lined up include a flight to the space station planned for next year which will carry real estate investors and philanthropists and an all-civilian charity-focused mission.

For the Dear Moon mission, Maezawa bought all the tickets to Musk’s SpaceX rocket and he actually wants people from all backgrounds to join on the mission’s website. There are steps outlined to book a ride for the mission.

Starting with the pre-registration process interested candidates who pre-registered by March 14th will receive an email about the selection process. The selection process will then lead to the initial screening by March 21st.

After selection and initial screening, there will be specific assignments to carry out and online interviews for better understanding. The interview will then lead to a final interview and medical checkups slated for May 2021.

Following the selection of the eight crew members for the Dear Moon project, the training period will then commence preparing the passengers for the journey to the moon.

Information, as regards the dates of the interview and its model, is still not known, however, the Dear Moon official site has stated that the scheme and schedule are subjected to change.

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