Two photographers will take a six-day trip around the Moon as part of an eight-person crew, all paid for by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
The Dear Moon mission will see photographer Rhiannon Adam and Karim Iliya fly in a privately-hired SpaceX rocket on a six-day trip around the Moon. The hope is that the creatives will “be inspired in a way they have never been before,” creating revolutionary art in the process.
Fashion mogul Maezawa has hired SpaceX rockets for the first civilian lunar orbital mission for an undisclosed fee but is not charging his passengers.
Maezawa had two main criteria for selecting candidates. Applicants should be seeking to “push the envelope” in the field of work by going to space and that they are “helping other people and greater society in some way.”
A final requirement was that they are willing to support their fellow crew members during the journey.
‘I Went Running Through a Field’
Karim Iliya is a 32-year-old international wildlife photographer based in Iceland and is also a whale swimming guide.
“I first started taking photos to document my life and show people the beauty of the world,” he says.
“For my whole life I’ve looked up at the Moon and thought that while it is so far away, it is also so close.”
“When I found out I was selected for Dear Moon I was on a small farm in Argentina and I went running through the fields, smiling and laughing, and I didn’t know what to say or what to do,” he says.
“I’m so excited to look at the Earth from the perspective of the Moon, to be so far away from everything and everyone, and to see a planet rising or setting behind the Moon.
“I expect to come back a vastly different person and use my experience to leave the world a better place than when I arrived.”
‘I Actually Cried With Excitement’
37-year-old Rhiannon Adam is an Irish photographic artist based in London who uses analog equipment to explore humanity’s relationship with the natural world and is particularly interested in exploring the “space between fact and fiction.”
“It was in the middle of the pandemic and I was craving an adventure. And it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” she says.
“I spend a lot of my life working with very remote communities and it felt like a natural thing to do — to apply to go to space and explore the most remote community ever, which would be us in space.
“When I was selected as a crew member, I got this email saying: ‘Would you like to do one more interview.’ And it was just MZ [Maezawa] on the screen. I’m not really a cry-y sort of person but I think I actually cried with excitement and just feeling overwhelmed.”
Maezawa says that he received applicants from people residing in 249 countries.
“It is unfortunate that I cannot take all of you with me, but I look forward to going on this lunar trip with all your challenges and passion close to my heart,” he says.
The Dear Moon mission is slated to blast off sometime in 2023 using SpaceX’s Starship; a new rocket and spacecraft systtem that is yet to. conduct its first orbital test flight.