When Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa first announced the dearMoon mission in 2018, he had floated the idea of sharing the ride with professional artists who could express their experience through various media. Although he has backtracked a little on that idea (and also nixed the idea of having a “Bachelor”-like reality show in which he would have chosen a girlfriend for the ride after backlash), he has now floated hints that the finalized list of passengers for the trip around the Moon will be mostly artists, photographers, dancers, athletes, and a DJ named Steve Aoki.
Some professional astronauts have turned to art in an attempt to express what they saw and experienced during their missions. Apollo 12’s Alan Bean featured several of his original art pieces on his official website, a couple of which are still available for sale. Michael Collins apparently took up watercolors as a hobby, including the humorous “Nook One,” in which a fish was being launched instead of a rocket.
Maezawa has not yet made an announcement on who the final winners of the dearMoon contest are. The contest had more than one million entrants, who had to make a video on why they were interested in going with him to the Moon. The entrants came from every country in the world. He says some of the entrants’ videos blew him away.
The idea of a “reality TV show” in which women could compete to be the “girlfriend” that Maezawa would have taken along also attracted 27,000 interested people before it was canceled. He pulled the plug on that contest in March after it drew significant criticism on social media.
That failure does not seem to have discouraged Maezawa much, however. He still plans to fly on the dearMoon mission in 2023. If the plan succeeds, he will join billionaire astro-passengers like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Branson has already flown in the VSS Unity during its most recent suborbital hop, although there is some debate on it really counts as a “spaceflight” since it didn’t reach the Karman line, which is internationally regarded as the edge of space.
Jeff Bezos is planning to fly on the first flight of Blue Origin’s spacecraft with people on board. The passengers include Wally Funk, an experienced pilot who had expressed interest in flying in space in the early 1960s. Her story as one of the “Mercury 13,” a group of women who had gone through NASA’s selection process for its first group of astronauts but were ruled not eligible due to their gender, has been told in media forms such as the book Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer. She has also made appearances at events like the annual Spacefest, which is happening in Tucson, Arizona on July 15-18 this year. (That’s right, it’s happening right now at the time of this writing if you happen to be in the Tucson area!)
Elon Musk is also rumored to have booked a flight with Branson’s Virgin Galactic at a relatively “cheap” price tag of $250,000. Branson says he “started the day” with Elon Musk showing up at his house at 3am to wish him success with his flight.
Yusaku Maezawa may make an announcement on who the final “crew” for the dearMoon mission is in the near future. However, the available information indicates that the final selectees may have come close to his original vision of including artists.