Things are looking up in 2021 — hundreds of thousands of miles up. The space industry has kicked off the year with three successful Mars missions, and there's a whole lot more in store. But what's perhaps most exciting for space enthusiasts is the announcement of not one, but two chances to win free spaceflights.
Following Jared Isaacman's announcement of his Inspiration4 mission, which has two seats reserved for members of the general public, Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa officially opened the application process for eight available seats on his DearMoon mission.
In a video posted online yesterday, Maezawa shared new details about the flight, which he first announced in 2018. He plans on taking his crew of 10 to 12 astronauts on a six-day lunar flyby, meaning his spacecraft will circle the moon before heading back to Earth. The mission will mark the first time civilians have left low-Earth orbit, and the first time anyone has flown to the moon since 1972.
To reach the moon, Maezawa will fly on a SpaceX Starship, the newest rocket being developed by the private spaceflight company. The vehicle is still in its testing phase — so far, just two prototypes have flown high-altitude tests, reaching a maximum height of approximately eight miles, though each has ended in a fiery crash. (A third prototype might fly as soon as today.) But SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who appears in Maezawa's video, is confident that Starship will be ready to fly the DearMoon mission in 2023 — an incredibly ambitious timeline that will almost certainly be delayed.
Still, Maezawa is moving forward with his astronaut selection over the next few months, endeavoring to develop a global crew comprising creatives from the general public by May. Per a press release issued by the DearMoon project, candidates must meet the following two requirements:
- "Applicants looking to be a DearMoon crew member must demonstrate a potential for individual growth from this mission and ensure their experience brings future value for the world, producing societal contributions that will benefit humankind for generations to come."
- "Applicants must be able to support the fellow crew members who have the same potential and vision."
Is that you? You can preregister to apply for a spot on the mission now through the morning of March 14 at dearmoon.earth, with additional details on the full application process to follow.
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