The First Commercial Lunar Mission: The Best Promotion for Space Tourism Ever

 

Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire, entrepreneur, and now the only person on Earth with a ticket to travel into the depths of outer space. On Monday, September 17th, SpaceX’s Elon Musk announced that the businessman had purchased all spots on the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) lunar mission that is projected to take place in 2023. Maezawa—the owner of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer, Zozotown—will be inviting world-renowned artists in disciplines such as fashion, film, architecture, photography, and music to accompany him on this remarkable journey in order to inspire them to create works based on their findings. This project, which Maezawa has named #dearMoon, is supposed to “inspire the dreamer within all of us” and “make people excited about the future.”

The idea of a commercial flight is not new to SpaceX, as Musk’s original goal has been to travel to and colonize Mars; however, many are confused about the recent prioritization on a trip to the moon. In previous years, the company has said that it was “a way to demonstrate the capabilities of [their] 27 Falcon Heavy booster,” but the development of their newest, most powerful rocket has pushed back the mission a couple years and altered their reasoning for the trip. Musk in the past has even voiced his concerns with lunar missions by saying that they may not be of much importance to drive SpaceX to reach their ultimate goals. So, this brings us back to the question, why a passenger trip to the moon?

Elon Musk’s announcement yesterday was given with high energy and great optimism, but it was also—almost under his breath—revealed that they have not yet found a funding method for this project. As the BFR is only in the beginning stages of production and the only funds that they have so far are from Maezawa’s purchasing of the tickets, SpaceX is in great need of funding. However, to Musk’s favor, there has been a lot of Venture Capital firms that have shown great enthusiasm towards the commercialization of space in form of money and funding. It has been known that these firms pay more attention to startups that are focusing efforts towards space travel. A Tech Crunch article in 2016 described this by saying:

“A surge in interest in outer space by sources of private capital presents the opportunity of rapid growth and commercialization that should, through the laws of supply and demand, drive down costs associated with cosmic ventures in the long run. This reality will make the space economy as accessible as any other on Earth several decades down the road.”

This quote in and of itself provides a reason for Musk’s push towards this lunar passenger trip: to generate a sense of excitement and anticipation amongst all Earthlings, especially those of the VC industry. This revolutionary and thought-provoking trip to the moon with some of the most influential figures on the planet is, in my mind, one of the greatest marketing campaigns ever executed. Space travel is something that has been out of reach and a dream to many, but finally the announcement of this project has made it feel feasible and closer than ever before. As if space travel wasn’t enough of a draw, Yusaku Maezawa has transformed this lunar trip into a worldwide phenomenon with his #dearMoon project.

With all this publicity and excitement created about space tourism and SpaceX in particular, the funding for the BLR’slunar mission will be found in no time and most people on Earth will be fighting for tickets to the next cosmic passenger trip. SpaceX has become prominent in the space industry due to their bold and controversial acts, but this is one project that I believe will finally put SpaceX on a platform of their own.

 

Watch the #dearMoon Project announcement video here!

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3 thoughts on “The First Commercial Lunar Mission: The Best Promotion for Space Tourism Ever

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  1. It is both fascinating and scary to imagine the technological capabilities that our society will be able to produce in the near future, as we have seen such a rapid growth in the sector in just the past decade. However, technological innovation just for the sake of innovation is a dangerous habit for society to form, being an inefficient use of valuable resources and energy. Elon Musk’s ventures into the world of space exploration leads us all to think about the cost-benefit analysis of sending humans on a colonizing trip to Mars. To what extent are we interested in expanding our reach to interstellar proportions at the expense of rapidly melting glacial caps, disastrous wildfires ripping across natural lands, or the harmful effects of fracking on our planet? Personally, I hope that people won’t be clamoring for tickets to participate in this glorified publicity event for Musk’s company and stakeholders.

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  2. You bring a new angle to the space exploration space; marketing. So much of our world is centered on marketing, and brand promotion, and now the next phase of human discovery- space exploration is as well. However, I think the funding comment is particularly concerning, and I have serious doubts that enthusiasm for space travel will be enough to convince “earthlings,” in particular venture capitalists, to invest and fund the mission. Enthusiasm will not be enough for them to provide large checks. Additionally, as Musk was in serious trouble with the SEC only this week- almost being expelled from his other, and more well known, company, I personally think funders will be much more cautious. That being said, this is clearly and exciting time, but I think also concerning when we think about just how far we are pushing technology– what will our place be in say the next 100 years?

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  3. Heather,

    I totally agree with you that this lunar mission is a great execution of a marketing campaign to promote the future of space travel as a whole. I must admit, if I was given the opportunity to go to the Moon I would take it as well. I also think taking artists to the Moon for this mission will be an interesting perspective to take as most of the missions into space have been oriented by astronauts and to find out content in the minerals of those destinations. Also, having that many people go to the Moon and be able to create art based on it is something that I find very interesting and believe it could really encourage future space research. Though the costs are high, I am hoping that the results from this project will prove to make it worth it – especially because of the external perspectives that differ from the usual person that would have the opportunity to go out into space.

    My only concern is how these individuals will handle the atmosphere of space and adjusting to spending that much time in the solar system. I would love to hear more once the information is released as to how they are going to prepare these individuals for their future mission and the itinerary for the expedition. On top of this, Musk has proven to be reckless and wild with how he handles his comments to the public and his actions, leading to growing concerns of investors to possibly want to fund this. I do hope that this mission is executed, especially because I do believe that space research and expeditions have been stagnant in recent decades. I hope that this mission encourages NASA to conduct similar ones on other planets in our solar system. Also, thank you for bringing this mission to my attention – I did not hear about this until you wrote this post and I am extremely interested to see how it plays out!

    – Sydney

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