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This post originally published on March 22nd, 2021.

September 1, 2021 —

In an unexpected pivot from his publicized selection criteria, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (aka “MZ”) selected a common nerd to join his crew of eight for a 2023 Moon expedition aboard Elon Musk’s imaginatively-named Starship. When asked the reason for his decision the typically verbose MZ simply said, “Awe.” 

In 2019, MZ made public his desire to underwrite a manned, week-long trip to the Moon with a crew of his choosing. Until then, few beyond those closest to Elon Musk’s SpaceX program even knew passenger seats on Starship were open for the trip. Equipped with both means and motive, MZ seized an opportunity to buy out the limited number of SpaceX seats for an undisclosed but clearly persuasive sum. He then set out to curate the perfect fraternity of space compatriots. 

The billionaire playboy first solicited a potential mate. 

The publicized siren cry led close to 35,000 single women to apply. It remains unclear, however, whether any of the applicants fully appreciated the contours of the assignment or that marriage to a billionaire was not guaranteed after a perilous trip into outer space wherein said female may have perished, shit her space suit, looked bad on Instagram, or decided after eating another freeze-dried banana 238,900 miles above Earth that long-term relationships forged in zero gravity environments may not be solid indicators of longevity. 

Despite a tidal wave of interest from single women, the fickle MZ revised his criteria and put out a second call—this time for artists from around the world. 

Official data show few professional artists applied. 

Sources in the global art community report that the low turnout was the result of artists not giving a fuck about being hurled into space. One art gallery owner asked, “What is he planning to do with eight successful artists in space? Makes no sense. If something goes wrong up there, what does he think some brilliant sculptor is going to do about it, chisel an astronaut that knows how to fix it?”  

Under guarantees of anonymity, a source close to the project noted, “Most of us realized right away that it was a mistake. It’s too subjective. Who’s an artist? My kid thinks he’s an artist because people like his YouTube videos. I mean, it was a beautiful idea, though… to send poets and composers and painters in the hopes they’d capture the experience unlike anyone else. But after a while, when Banksy never applied, MZ came around… more or less.” 

MZ’s final publicized invitation to join his “Moon Crew” called for “visionaries who seek to make the world a better place.”  

Despite the equally obtuse and undeniably punctilious criteria, droves of people who fancy themselves visionaries applied for the Moon Crew. In addition to a copy of his son’s most popular YouTube videos, our anonymous source provided additional context. 

“Lotta do-gooders. Lotta bleeding hearts apparently want to go to the Moon. Not a lot of true visionaries though. Seriously, like, how many Elon Musks, Ted Turners, Bill Gates, and Zach Galifianakises are there anyway?”

The final manifest for the Moon Crew, including two back-up candidates, was made public this week. 

Save one exception, MZ’s new team includes an empirically impressive list of fellow space travelers: two physicians, one historian, three tech entrepreneurs focused on reversing climate change, a paleo-botanist, an astrophysics graduate student, and a lawyer. The back-up crew consists of a pediatric neuro-surgeon and the founder and Executive Director of the Chernobyl Collective, who was reported to have just returned to the United States after completing the abatement of all vestigial signs of radiation and rescuing over 50 feral dogs found roaming the vacant power plant. 

MZ’s long-awaited press conference at SpaceX’s headquarters was met mostly with cheers from space fans and reporters alike. The cacophony of joy, however, did not fully muffle an audible grumble over the selection of a lawyer from Texas. MZ attempted to quell concerns with his telltale brand of refined humility and charm, decrying naysayers with assurances that Ms. Moore’s legal background had nothing to do with her ticket to space.

“I’ve never met a purer space-obsessed nerd in my life. Her application moved me to tears, and I found respite from them only by following her lead and heading outside to stare aimlessly up at the night sky. Is she as accomplished as the other members of the crew? No. Does she have an impressive pedigree? Again, no. Would I consider her a visionary? Umm, not really. Is she physically the best candidate? Definitely not! She can’t ride in the backseat of a car without barfing. 

“But she’s just so earnest in her passion for astronomy and space travel. I mean, she has a framed Chart of Cosmic Exploration above her desk, which pictorially captures the path and trajectory of everything Earth has launched into orbit up until 2018—when it was printed. Frankly, she kinda creeps me out a bit, and I spend a lot of time with Elon, so that’s saying something. And I feel sure she might be a better lawyer if she spent more time focused on work than reading competing white papers on whether Oumuamua was an asteroid or evidence of extraterrestrial life. 

“I was particularly moved by the stories of her childhood spent reading Asimov and Sagan aloud to her dad on road trips and how they’d camp under the stars and he’d quiz her on constellations. And I can’t be sure, because even I don’t really understand, but I think she might actually know what she’s talking about when she gets going on the personalities of those subatomic particles called quarks. The amount of NASA crap in her home is a bit off-putting, but also charming because it’s unexpected. Just don’t make the mistake of asking her about String Theory. Jesus, that was the most painful cup of tea of my life!”

Regarding the requirement that passengers are to make the world a better place, MZ demurred when asked about Ms. Moore. 

“That part was more of a guideline, not a rule. Let’s start with the lawyer thing. Gross. She also teaches at a law school, but the jury is still out, pun intended, on whether she’s helping any of her students. But, you know, her own kids had good manners and seemed well-adjusted… anyway, point is, she will make a great crew member and her enthusiasm alone could power Starship. I had always envisioned a crew of world beaters at my side. But I realized I wanted to travel to the Moon and to look back at Earth next to someone who would truly appreciate it with childlike awe. And that seat, and a box of barf bags, goes to her. ” MZ wrapped up the interview with his signature smile and bow.

 The Moon Crew is set to start training in January 2022. 

Natalie Brandt

Natalie is a lawyer and mom trapped in Texas. Wildly outspoken about the separation of church and state, she can quickly kill a dinner party but always brings good wine.

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