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!