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Free tickets up for grabs for 2023 Moon trip

Reuters, March 8, 2021 6:45PM Kids News

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The famous Earthrise photo from December 1968 taken by the astronauts on Apollo 8 as they came from behind the Moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn. Yusaku Maezawa was wearing a T-shirt bearing this photograph for the interview about his Moon orbit plans. Picture: NASA media_cameraThe famous Earthrise photo from December 1968 taken by the astronauts on Apollo 8 as they came from behind the Moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn. Yusaku Maezawa was wearing a T-shirt bearing this photograph for the interview about his Moon orbit plans. Picture: NASA

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The worldwide search is on for eight passengers to take a free trip around the Moon in 2023.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has launched the search for people to join him on the SpaceX flight. He will pay the entire cost of the voyage.

He had originally planned to invite artists for the week long trip but the revised project will “give more people from around the globe the chance to join this journey. If you see yourself as an artist, then you are an artist,” Mr Maezawa said.

The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Mr Maezawa.

The entrepreneur*, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX’s next-generation reusable launch vehicle, called the Starship.

“I thought there might be delays but everything is on schedule,” said Mr Maezawa.

Three recent Starship prototypes* have exploded during testing, a reminder of the risks for Mr Maezawa, 45, and his fellow passengers, who must also contend with* the strains of space travel in the first private journey beyond Earth’s orbit.

The latest test flight to have problems was just last Wednesday, March 3. The heavy-duty launch vehicle blasted off perfectly into the sky above Texas and though it flew itself back to Earth, achieving the first upright landing for a Starship model, it blew up about eight minutes after touchdown.

media_cameraStill image from SpaceX’s live webcast shows the Starship SN10 prototype as it prepares to land during the second attempted test flight of the day at SpaceX’s South Texas test facility near Boca Chica Village in Brownsville, Texas, US on March 3, 2021. Picture: AFP/SpaceX

“Elon Musk says there is no problem and I believe him,” said Mr Maezawa. SpaceX ferried four astronauts to the International Space Station in November on its Falcon 9 rocket.

Mr Maezawa said he is not in training — which he expects to take a few months at most — but is watching his alcohol intake and exercising while spending a few hours a week considering the mission.

“I’m only preparing mentally,” said the fashion guru*, wearing a T-shirt depicting the iconic 1968 Earthrise photo.

Seeing the whole Earth and the far side of the moon would be highlights of the trip, said Mr Maezawa, who had considered a trip to the ISS before choosing the more ambitious moon voyage.

“This mission we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from Planet Earth,” Mr Musk said.

Costs for the trip remain in line with the original contract with SpaceX, said Mr Maezawa, who has declined to say how much that is, but that it will cost more than the $141 million he paid for a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.

Japanese billionaire businessman is SpaceX's Moon tourist media_cameraJapanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks near a Falcon 9 rocket during the announcement in 2018 by Elon Musk that Mr Maezawa will be the first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR launch vehicle. Picture: AFP

Both Mr Musk and Mr Maezawa have built loyal followings on social media, with the latter’s cash giveaways helping to make him Japan’s most-followed Twitter account.

Mr Maezawa said he plans to feature mission preparation on his YouTube channel.

Last year he launched a short-lived documentary search for a new girlfriend to join him on the trip before pulling out citing* “mixed feelings.”

media_cameraYusaku Maezawa with a miniature rocket and space helmet prior to start of a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo in 2018. Picture: AFP

GLOSSARY

  • entrepreneur: business person who starts up or invests in new ideas
  • prototypes: early working models
  • contend with: struggle to deal with
  • guru: popular expert
  • citing: referring to

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where will passengers go on this trip?
  2. Which passenger is already committed to going?
  3. Who owns SpaceX?
  4. How did Japanese billionaire make his money?
  5. Do we have any idea how much the voyage will cost?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Moon Interview
Would you like to be the first passenger on the 2023 flight around the Moon?! Answer the interview questions below to see if you are a possible candidate to win the trip!

– Why would you like to be onboard the 2023 Starship voyage around the Moon?

– Do you and your parents consent to this space trip?

– What would you contribute as one of only eight passengers to win this opportunity?

– Draw a sketch of your impressions of this possible Moon trip.

– Do you think your health would pass the strict medical testing required?

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
Work with a partner and write a list of the eight passengers you would like to take on the Starship. A range of different people and professions … which is most important?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
I Spy Nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick 3 nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

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