Fly me to the moon


For those who have had enough of North Carolina’s mountains and shore, maybe the next thing to consider is a trip to the moon. Entrepreneur Elon Musk wants to make space tourism a thing; he announced a couple of weeks ago that his company, SpaceX, would soon fly a Japanese billionaire and fashion designer, Yusaku Maezawa, on a round trip to circle our bright sister orb. This would be the first lunar mission taken by humans since NASA sent Apollo 17 there in 1972.

“It’s dangerous, to be clear,” Musk said during the announcement on Sept. 17 at SpaceX headquarters outside of Los Angeles. “This is not a walk in the park here. When you’re pushing the frontier, it’s not a sure thing. ... There’s some chance that something could go wrong. ... We better get that flight right.”

Musk has some experience in things going wrong. He was sued on Thursday by the Securities and Exchange Commission because of an Aug. 7 tweet in which he announced that he had money lined up to take his electric car company, Tesla, private. Those tweets, they’ll get you every time. He was also recently sued by one of the Thai cave rescuers, whom he had insulted with rude accusations.

Musk also has some experience with space flight, having helmed a company that learned rocketry well enough to handle billion-dollar contracts with NASA, routinely delivering cargo to the International Space Station. The moon trip is just the next step toward his ultimate goal of Mars colonization.

The plan is for Maezawa to fly aboard the nearly 400-foot-tall “Big Falcon Rocket,” a type of rocket that SpaceX is developing to shuttle people to Mars. The week-long voyage in weightlessness would circle the moon before returning safely to Earth. The flight is scheduled for 2023 at the earliest, and Musk estimates it will cost between $2 and $10 billion.

Maezawa won’t go alone. He says he has bought all five-to-eight seats on the craft and plans to take a group of artists with him. He hopes the trip will inspire great works.

Musk is a complicated figure, with a load of personal idiocentricities. He’s also a visionary. We would like to see this project carried out to a safe and successful completion. It may inspire the next generation of space explorers — and artists.

— Winston-Salem Journal


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