A Japanese fashion magnate, who has booked an all-civilian SpaceX flight ‘round the moon for 2023, has now announced that he’s also making an earlier trip this December to the International Space Station. On Thursday, billionaire Yusaku Maezawa tweeted: “Going to the ISS before the Moon ????.” Sounds perhaps slightly more action-packed than the 2023 moon trip, which will consist entirely of orbiting a rock where nothing happens, and gazing at the Earth, a location where everything happens. Perhaps ponder the fact that money is no good on the moon, and then go home.
The trip is facilitated by space tour agency Space Adventures, which has arranged space tours for a handful of monied clients, primarily tech entrepreneurs, including billionaire engineer Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, and Anousheh Ansari. Maezawa will board the Russian Soyuz MS-20 from Kazakhstan and spend 12 days in space accompanied by a cosmonaut and his personal production assistant.
In a statement published by ABC News, Maezawa said “I’m so curious, ‘What’s life like in space?’ So, I am planning to find out on my own and share with the world.” He can tweet about it while he’s up there.
Maezawa has also famously arranged the 2023 SpaceX mission “dearMoon,” aboard SpaceX’s Starship rocket, a commercial civilian space flight. Maezawa has solicited the public for eight creatively-minded people to join, all expenses paid (applications are now closed). They expect to circle the moon, which will take six days in total.
“I want to be reminded of how small, how insignificant I am,” Maezawa said in a mission trailer. “In space, I think I will realise anew how small I am, how much more I have to experience.”
But his star may fade after SpaceX’s first all-civilian mission, to launch later this year, for nobody remembers space travellers unless they did something first up there. My colleague Tom McKay might urge Maezawa to cement his relevance as the first man to blow up the moon, which is madness, but would at least head off the inevitable global moon colonisation Cold War.