Who wants to be the first girl to fly around the moon? As a bonus, this first girl will get to have the voyage of a lifetime in the company of a Japanese billionaire. What could go wrong? According to Space.Com, plenty.
“On Sunday (Jan. 12), Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, founder of the Japanese online retailer Zozotown and an avid fine art collector, tweeted, “[WANTED!!!] Why not be the “first woman” to travel to the moon? #MZ_looking_for_love,” alongside an image of him with the moon with the caption “come to the moon with me?”
Twitter’s outrage has been fast and furious. When most people imagine the first woman to the moon, they think of a scientist or a former military pilot with a lot of skills and training. The main objection to Maezawa’s proposal is that if he succeeds, the first woman to fly to the moon will be the winner of a version of The Bachelor in space.
Laura Seward Forczyk, an aerospace consultant and the author of the upcoming “Rise of the Space Millennials” offered a typical exasperated response.
“I mean, it’s his money, he can do whatever he wants. But I find this disturbing. I support #dearMoon for its support of the arts, not its cheesy “matchmaking.” Why not send some amazing female artists? It shows just how far we need to go to reach gender equality. #WomenInSpace.”
Back in 2018, Maezawa paid SpaceX’s Elon Musk an undisclosed amount of money to take a crew of artists around the moon onboard that company’s Starship, currently in development in Florida and Boca Chica, Texas.
The idea was that these artists would be able to create paintings, songs, and other works of value based on their experiences. The project was called “Dear Moon” and received a lot of approval from space observers.
Elon Musk has been building the Starship for about the last two years. The spacecraft would be launched from Earth atop an even larger rocket called the Superheavy. With in orbit refueling from another Starship configured as a tanker, the spacecraft could take 100 metric tons of cargo and people to the moon and Mars. The Starship is a reusable spacecraft, designed to land on the same place it took off from.
The money that Maezawa paid for his Dear Moon ride has given Musk the seed money he needs to get the project off the ground, as it were. SpaceX is also seeking a NASA contract for the lunar lander as part of its Project Artemis return to the moon program.
No one has reported, as of this writing, what Musk thinks of this apparent bait and switch. However, CNN suggests that the reason Maezawa pulled this new girl to the moon contest is that he has recently split with his long-term girlfriend. That bit of news causes everything to make a weird kind of sense.
When most people undergo a breakup, they tend to experience a period of funk before they hop back on that bicycle and start dating again. When one is middle-aged and has lots of money, the problem is compounded by the suspicion that any female may be attracted more to the bank account than to oneself.
An attempt to find a life partner by offering to fly her around the moon would seem to be a bizarre way to go about healing the pain of a breakup. However, more than one observer has suggested that the contest would cause self-selection of a certain kind of woman.
She would be at least adventurous, a quality that many people prize. She might even have the kind of skills, education, and experience that one more associate with space travel than good looks and a pleasant disposition.
How Maezawa will choose from the number of applicants is something that the fashion mogul has not yet revealed. A lot of the critics of the scheme suggest that the criteria are going to be solely on sex appeal. That may not necessarily the case.
Maezawa could throw his critics a curveball by also adding in certain skill sets as part of his selection criteria. A young, adventurous lady who is also a scientist, explorer, or even artist might be the perfect companion for an around the moon adventure. Maezawa could also round out his crew that he and his “first mate” would have with the artists to also go along on the ultimate voyage of discovery.