Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is teasing a “big update” for Tuesday, March 2. And while we don’t know what this update might be yet, we definitely know it’s about the moon, which has the potential to be very exciting news.
Why is it exciting? Maezawa has an agreement with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to be the company’s first civilian passenger to the Moon, whenever that actually happens, and he wants to put other civilians in lunar orbit by 2023.
Maezawa tweeted late Thursday asking if anyone wants to fly to the moon with him, hinting that he’s either going to solicit entries or he’s already chosen some contenders.
The #dearmoon project was announced by Maezawa with the goal of getting artists up close and personal with the Moon, though as CNET points out, we haven’t heard much about the project since it was announced in Sept. 2018.
“If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the moon up-close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn?” Maezawa asked on his website in 2018. “If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written? If they had gone to space, how would the world have looked today?”
It’s a genuinely interesting and earnest question in an age of cynicism and anxiety. And it’s tough to guess whether artists will come back from lunar orbit with better ideas any more than they’ll come back with an exotic space disease that will finally wipe out humanity.
But it’s worth asking how our attitudes about space travel can change the course of history, as they very clearly did in the 1950s and ‘60s, though not always in the ways we had hoped. Baby boomers grew up being told that they’d visit donut-shaped space colonies and one day take their own vacations on the Moon. Kraft Foods even gave away a life-size rocket simulator to some lucky kids in 1959.
These kids of the ‘50s and ‘60s were promised that the world would be better, all thanks to advances made in space. The question was “when” not “if” we’d all be blasting off to the Moon.
Those promises turned out to be lies. The rapid improvements in space technology were largely used for pushing the agenda of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Why don’t we have a permanent colony on the Moon yet? Probably because you don’t need one to nuke Moscow. The space shuttle program was very good at getting America’s spy satellites into orbit, even if most people didn’t see them that way.
Perhaps it’s time for a new age of earnest longing for travel in space. We might not get there if we’re not billionaires or a select handful of artists. But a collective dream can change the world. It may not always change it for the better, but after the past year of living through a pandemic and a neo-fascist uprising, it’s hard to see how it could get any wore.