Artistic rendition of the Starship firing its engines while passing by the Moon
|Mission type||Crewed lunar flyby|
|Mission duration||6 days|
|Members||Yusaku Maezawa, Damien Chazelle (not accepted yet)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||2023 (proposed)|
#dearMoon project insignia
The #dearMoon project is a lunar tourism mission and art project conceived and financed by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. It will make use of a SpaceX Starship on a private spaceflight flying a single circumlunar trajectory around the Moon. The passengers will be Maezawa, several artists, and one or two crew members. The project was unveiled in September 2018 and the flight is expected to occur no earlier than 2023.
The project objective is to have six to eight accomplished artists travel with Maezawa for free around the Moon on a six-day tour. Maezawa expects the experience of space tourism will inspire the accompanying artists in the creation of new art. The art would be exhibited some time after returning to Earth to help promote peace across the world.
Maezawa had previously contracted in 2017 with SpaceX for a lunar flyby in a much smaller Dragon 2 spacecraft launched by a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle which would have carried only two passengers. According to a SpaceX announcement in early 2018, the Falcon Heavy plan was shelved in light of the development of Starship.
On February 27, 2017, SpaceX announced that they were planning to fly two space tourists on a free-return trajectory around the Moon, now known to be billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, and one friend. This mission, which would have launched in late 2018, was planned to use the Crew Dragon 2 capsule already developed under contract for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and launched via a Falcon Heavy rocket. As well as being a source of income for the company, any mission would serve as technology development for SpaceX's further plans to colonize Mars.
At the time of the 2017 announcement, the Crew Dragon 2 capsule was still under development and the Falcon Heavy had yet to fly. Industry analysts noted that the schedule proposed by SpaceX might be too ambitious, as the capsule was expected to need modifications to handle differences in flight profile between the proposed lunar flight and its main use for crew transfer to space stations orbiting Earth.
In February 2018, SpaceX announced it no longer had plans to certify the Falcon Heavy for human spaceflight and that lunar missions would be carried out with the BFR system (now called Starship). Then, on September 14, 2018, SpaceX announced that the previously contracted passenger would be launched aboard the BFR/Starship to flyby the Moon in 2023. Starship will have a pressurized volume of 1,000 m3 (35,000 cu ft), large common areas, central storage, a galley, and a solar storm shelter.
On February 6 2019, the #dearMoon YouTube channel posted a video in which Maezawa discusses the movie First Man with director Damien Chazelle and lead actor Ryan Gosling. In the video, Maezawa officially invites Chazelle to come with him on his #dearMoon project, making Chazelle the first person to be publicly invited to go. However, Chazelle answered that he had to think about it and discuss it with his wife.
The #dearMoon project passengers will be Yusaku Maezawa and six to eight accomplished artists that Maezawa will invite to travel with him for free. One or two astronauts and an undetermined number of SpaceX pilots might also fly on board. Maezawa expects this flight will inspire the artists in their creation of new art, which will be presented some time after their return to Earth, he hopes this project will help promote peace across the world.
Artists invited (not accepted yet) by Maezawa to date:
Proposed to launch in 2023, the circumlunar mission is expected to take 6 days to complete. In 1970 Apollo 13 followed a similar trajectory around the Moon, without entering orbit or landing. During the 2020s NASA's Artemis 1 and Artemis 2 are proposed to launch on similar trajectories; the second one is planned to be crewed and to be launched in 2023.