The Japanese billionaire and fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa. Image Credit: Chris Carlson/AP

When Humans first raced into space, the main driving factors pushing and more importantly funding the research required were mainly political. The Governments of the USA and USSR pushed each other further and further, vying to be the “first” to achieve the milestones that we are all familiar with, first in space, first to orbit the moon and of course first to walk on the moon.

This was done to score propaganda points and to confirm any perceived military advantage. Despite the increasingly aggressive stance of modern-day Russia and the infamous “Space Force” touted by President Trump, the appetite of the two great superpowers to continue their advance into space seems to have dried up over the last couple of decades.

“If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written?”

The Japanese billionaire and fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on September 18, 2018. Image Credit: Yusaku Maezawa/Twitter

So going forward, who is going to drive the advance of humanity further and further into space? While there is some advance from the traditionally smaller players in the space race, such as the Chinese and Japanese governments, it increasingly looks like the largest future advances in space exploration are going to be made for commercial rather than political reasons. Companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin are leading the way in this space with the first main commercialisation opportunity being “Space Tourism” with wealthy individuals providing funding for the opportunity to experience space for themselves

SpaceX released an updated rendering of the Big Falcon Rocket launching into the solar system. Image Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX via Twitter

The latest and most ambitious of these projects is the recently announced “Dear Moon” project. Yusaku Maezawa has paid an undisclosed (but large) amount to SpaceX to become the first space tourist to complete a full lunar orbit. The trip is due to occur in 2023 and will use the as yet undeveloped SpaceX B.F.R. (the “B” stand for “Big” and the “R” stands for “Rocket”, SpaceX have not disclosed what the “F” stands for). It is expected that the trip will take 4 or 5 days, and Mr Maezawa does not intend on spending that time alone.

The First Quarter Moon. Image Credit: Aqilla Othman

Mr Maezawa has announced that on his trip he will be taking a selection of artists in order to share the unique experience of leaving the planet with as many people as possible, through the art that is then created. In Mr Maezawa’s own words;

“If Pablo Picasso had been able to see the moon up-close, what kind of paintings would he have drawn? If John Lennon could have seen the curvature of the Earth, what kind of songs would he have written? If they had gone into space, how would the world have looked today?”