It has been 46 years since mankind has walked on the surface of the Moon, with astronaut Gene Cernan to be the last man to do so in 1972. Fast forward to 2018, we have seen man take great strides towards once again venturing to the Earth’s closest neighbor, or at least its orbit. This is all thanks to SpaceX, a privately-owned aerospace manufacturer that makes it its mission to revolutionize and commercialize space travel. But this time, instead of astronauts paving the way to the heavens, it will be billionaires who have paid to board this once in a lifetime trip.
The rocket that will be used for this journey, called the “Big Falcon Rocket” or “BFR”, will be able to propel passengers to the Moon and, eventually, Mars. The BFR will have a 39-story launch system that is comprised of two parts: a 180-foot-tall spaceship, measured from tip to tail, and a rocket booster that is 283 feet tall. The BFR is also designed with reusability in mind, being able to withstand multiple trips from Earth to space and back.
Among those boarding the Big Falcon Rocket, for its first trip, will be Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire and entrepreneur, who will be joined by six to eight artists that Maezawa plans to invite. It’s currently unknown as to which artists will be joining Maezawa aboard the BFR, but his reasoning for inviting them is so that “they can create something after they returned to Earth.” He believes that their artworks will “inspire the dreamer within us all.”
Though the passengers will experience the awe of being close to the Moon, they won’t be able to land on it. This is because the BFR will hold more passengers than the usual NASA rocket, which can hold two to three people at a time, making it more difficult for the individuals in charge of landing the ship to calculate the ship’s weight. Instead of trying to create new technical challenges for the ship, SpaceX has decided that it would be best for the tourists to just take a close look at the astronomical body from the spacecraft without making an attempt to land.
Though we won’t see another human walk on the surface of the Moon anytime soon, the prospect of another Lunar expedition is exciting nonetheless. It is expected that the passenger’s trip on the BFR will take off in 2023, making history as the first group of people to become lunar tourists.
by Jean Santiago