A billionaire, a K-pop musician, an actor, and a bunch of artists board a spaceship and fly around the moon. There's no punchline here. This is the DearMoon mission, a planned journey of SpaceX's Starship that will carry artist-astronauts to visit our lunar neighbor.
Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, the pocketbook behind the mission, revealed the DearMoon crew on Thursday. DearMoon was announced back in 2018 as SpaceX's first private moon mission. The vision at the time was to send a group of artists into space so they could create works based on the experience.
Maezawa put out an open call for spaceflight applicants in 2021 and said he received over a million responses, so it's understandable it took some time to whittle those down to eight crew members and two backups. An announcement video features the future astronauts discussing the opportunity.
Maezawa is founder of Zozotown, Japan's largest online fashion retailer. He will act as crew leader and will be joined by DJ/producer Steve Aoki, K-pop star Choi Seung-hyun (known as T.O.P.), photographer Rhiannon Adam, choreographer/performer Yemi AD and documentary filmmaker Brendan Hall. YouTube creator Tim Dodd, known as Everyday Astronaut, is also on the roster along with photographer Karim Iliya and actor Dev Joshi.
It's hard not to notice the gender disparity, with just one woman on the main crew, while both backups are Olympic snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington and dancer Miyu. Maezawa also sparked controversy when he announced he'd be participating in a "matchmaking documentary" to find a partner to take on the mission. The project was intended to air on Japanese TV but was scrapped after 27,000 people had applied to appear on the show.
Each crew member has a video introduction on the DearMoon site along with a quote about why they're excited to be chosen. "Since I was a little child I was dreaming of going to the moon. It's becoming more and more real every day," Aoki said. "Still hard to believe but very excited and grateful for this amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To the moon!"
The DearMoon mission had been aiming to take off in 2023, but that may be an ambitious goal. SpaceX is still developing Starship and has yet to send the shiny spacecraft into orbit despite SpaceX founder Elon Musk's optimistic predictions.
Maezawa will head to space with some experience under his belt. He visited the International Space Station after catching a ride in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in late 2021. If DearMoon gets off the ground as planned, it will be a very different kind of space mission as a group of talented artists get to experience their universe in a new and wondrous way.