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Dear Moon (dearmoon.earth)
724 points by T-A 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 222 comments

"Some kind of celestial event. No — no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should have sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful... I had no idea."[0]

What a beautiful sentiment. This humanizes space travel. I really hope the team succeeds on this mission, even with delays.

As a kid, I always felt a sense of awe reading about space and space travel. Now I am in grad school and lost that feeling of awe along the way. The only times that feeling has come back were during the Rocketman livestream and now looking at this project.

I am looking forward to the day that we go back on the moon, maybe even build a base there (Kurzgesagt released a video today about a moon base[1], coincidence?).

Again, what a noble endeavor, a billionaire taking artists to the moon!

[0] http://scifiquotes.net/quotes/139_They-Should-Have-Sent-a-Po... [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtQkz0aRDe8

I keep hoping that we get some sort of SR Hadden "visionary" type. "The first rule of government spending, why build one, when you can have two at twice the price?"

Maybe Musk is the closest we've got right now? SpaceX, Boring Company, Hyperloop are pretty visionary for civilian projects. Even Mr. Hadden wasn't very well liked by those with "lesser" visions.

We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars. Carl Sagan, Cosmos

What is even more poetic is that the "most used" spaceport in the future is likely to be on the Somali coast, just north of the Great Rift Valley where Homo sapiens saipens first evolved and looked out at the sea for the first time. [0] History, though it does not repeat exactly, certainly does rhyme.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recent_African_origin_of_moder... (ok, well, maybe that was the Atlantic, not the Indian, but still, Africa)

I was pretty skeptical when I heard that private citizens booked a flight on Falcon Heavy. When those plans got shelved and these popped up, I had a similar level of skepticism. I expected it to be some random celebrity that wanted to go on a fancy tour.

This is anything but that. I feel more than humbled to be wrong. Bringing a ton of artists on a once in a lifetime trip for inspiration purposes is selfless, compassionate, and warm. It’s awesome. I’m so glad I was wrong.

> on a once in a lifetime trip

AFAIR, Burt Rutan said he wasn't that keen to watch Apollo-11 landing because he assumed it's soon going to be routine.

So far it wasn't. But why do you think it will not become more routine - perhaps a lot more routine - this time? Surely one can't count on that - but we do can dream and we do can bring some of our dreams to reality, even though we aren't always good with predicting when it'll happen.

There's literally (yes, literally literally) nothing there on the Moon, and going there costs more than going to the Mariana Trench.

No, it will not become more routine.

There's plenty of stuff on the Moon, plus there's much less gravity. You can mine rocket fuel, water, or Helium-3 and then send it into orbit pretty easily, for example.

You're simply not being accurate in saying that there's nothing there.

> There's literally (yes, literally literally) nothing there on the Moon

Not entirely true: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_situ_resource_utilization#M...

The Moon may be just a stepping stone to greater things. Maybe we "mine" on it, maybe we use it to more efficiently send things into orbit, maybe just tourism, who knows? You can't possibly know what possibilities there exist, right now.

I think we're lucky that ancient mariners didn't listen to the people who told them "there's literally nothing, nothing, in the Great Water".

> I think we're lucky that ancient mariners didn't listen to the people who told them "there's literally nothing, nothing, in the Great Water".

You're making a false and dishonest equivalency. Those mariners didn't know what was in the Great Water.

We absolutely do know to a huge degree of precision exactly what is on the Moon. (A whole bunch of nothing.)

We know more about the Moon than we know about the Mariana Trench. We've explored the Moon to death already.

When I watched the NASA administrator meeting in which NASA plans were discussed, one of the reasons listed for going to the moon was that we have seen that our understanding of it is not complete. It was not the United States of America that discovered, for example, that there was water ice on the moon, though we later confirmed the discovery. Yet this is a critical insight into its composition which has major implications.

When I watched the NASA administrator meeting in which NASA plans for building a base on the moon were discussed, one of the reasons listed was also rooted in discovery. There are many challenges that such a base would face and it is better to solve them when the Earth is close and rescue is more reasonable than to go to Mars with those problems not yet understood and solved, since the time till return from Mars will be measured in months and years rather than days.

What makes you so stridently disagree that we have more things to learn while on the moon, when the experts disagree with you? Also, since they do, doesn't this also make his equivalence a very good one, rather than false? Certainly the argument that there is more yet to be discovered about the trench does not refute his claim, only serving to enhance the degree to which claiming there is nothing is not valid.

I agree, mostly. As noted on a recent This American Life episode (also referenced elsewhere in this thread, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/655/the-not-so-great-unknow...), the most interesting thing to see on the moon is the Earth.

> There's literally (yes, literally literally) nothing there on the Moon...

There's a massive, atmosphere-free, stable, terrestrial EM shielded platform for large, human-maintained telescopes, and gravity for the maintenance staff.

Why not? Whatever price this guy paid is a 1-off for NRE costs. It won't be that expensive in the future anyway.

Are you sure the one who is sponsoring the trip doesn’t get to keep the IP to the art that is being created from it?

Honestly, this is beautiful. Let's fucking do it.

No seriously...let's do it. We're humans - this is the kind of funny, beautiful, impossible stuff we can uniquely do.

Capital allocation? Bleh, don't be so boring and uninspired!

How much of your capital do you plan to allocate? And do you plan to allocate any of mine (i.e., the taxpayer)?

I think the technology and learning that will come out of this will be more than worth the cost. It's short sighted to only consider the immediate ROI. A substantial portion of development is also currently being funded by a private citizen (approx $1.5B of the final cost).

And honestly, humanity could use a sense of humor sometimes. We spent trillions going to war in just the past 2 decades when we could have spent a couple billion doing seemingly impossible projects like this. Projects like this also provide jobs and have the added benefit of directing our efforts into something far more useful and far less disastrous than something like war.

Sure, that's how taxes work. We collect it from everyone and then decide collectively how to spend it. We don't only bill people for the things they personally use. One of the things we use money for is arts. The National Endowment for the Arts gets about $150 million per year, or roughly .004% of your taxes. I don't know how much these tickets to the moon cost, but let's say $100 million. That would roughly double the NEA's spending for a year, which I think works out to about 40 cents per taxpayer (someone can check me on that, maybe I'm way off). It probably does a better job of getting kids excited about science and art than most other ways we'd spend that 40 cents.

So yeah, I'm comfortable choosing that about 40 cents of your share of government's funding goes to this project.

About $33 assuming median wages[1]. Maybe $150 assuming SF area tech salaries.

You spend more on war.

1. https://www.space.com/10849-nasa-budget-contribute.html

> mine (i.e., the taxpayer)

Allow people to vote on government budgets and you'd get your answer.

I'd far prefer to decide what carve up of sectors tax is spent on than choose between politicians.

If they want to use my taxpayer money to do something we can all be proud of as a species, I’m all for it. Beats using those funds to forcibly destroy refugee families.

> How much of your capital do you plan to allocate? And do you plan to allocate any of mine (i.e., the taxpayer)?

Do you ask the same of, or have any say in how much of your capital is invested in other ventures, for example, how much your country spends on its military, or civilian surveillance?

So many "taxpayers" are concerned about a few hundred million here and there that could bring benefit to the entire human race but never blink an eye when the bloated military budget grows by a few hundred billion....

How about not buying some of those problematic F-35's? Or, maybe, skip the next invasion of a foreign country. Do you have any idea how much a bomb costs?

How about not give the uber rich a huge tax break?

That's also an excellent approach. Preventing evasion through shell companies would probably be helpful too.

We need to teach our kids that, when the world is exceedingly generous to them, it's nice to care for the ones it wasn't so nice to.

I plan to allocate about 1B, so probably around $3 of yours. I’m sure you’ll survive.

Spending money on space actually has a very high return for the Earthlings.

Essentially pretty much most of it.. tax deductions cost you more of your own money to pay for higher profit margins on privatised services and on lost maintenance on public infrastructure, and so you are definitely paying for it..

Sorry.. that should read tax cuts

#yolo applied to an entire species

This puts Yusaku Maezawa up there in league with the de Medici's and Borgia's in terms of patron of the arts.

And patrons of science. Remember the Medici stars? It's the old name Galileo gave the moons of Jupiter.

Perhaps in terms of absolute expenditures, but unlikely anything like it in terms of bang for the buck.

You might reserve that evaluation for a century or two.

Arguably, we're still cruising on the de Medicis' and Borgias' investments in the arts.

Right. In the optimistic case, people will still be learning about this art project while living in another galaxy. In terms of scale, there is the potential for MZ to end up as much more important, rather than on the same scale as, other patron of the arts. It is far too soon to tell.

I agree. I dread to think who they'll send. The musician will be a popular twerker rather than someone musical, and so on. It's a cute idea, but I expect the result will be cheesy fluff. We'll see.

This guy is only worth $3B, he may be spending half of his entire net worth to make this happen. I hope he inspires the richest billionaires of the world to fund such lofty ventures.

$10M-$20M is more than sufficient for a few generations (in a 100-200 years, our current understanding of the concept of money might not even be relevant, so it's pointless to plan for anything more than that). Anything more is just throwaway cash IMO. If you had the opportunity to become the first private citizen to go to the moon, you'd be stupid to not cement your legacy like that.

> If you had the opportunity to become the first private citizen to go to the moon, you'd be stupid to not cement your legacy like that.

He decided to share the trip, so he won't be "the first private citizen", merely "one of the first private citizens".

I couldn't agree more

He hinted during QA it was 5% of BFR development costs, and Elon said a "material" percentage, which for expense reporting usually means >= 5%. Dev costs were said to be $5billion, so that would be $250,000,000.

The questioner asked "is it more or less than 5%" -- I don't think they were confirming 5%, just repeating the number back (and Musk refused to say anything about the percentage at all).

MZ said he wished it was (only) 5%, perhaps indicating the desire to see more billionaires stepping up to the plate.

He said, "I'm happy with just 5%, thanks for the rocket."

But the answer was, "I'm happy with just 5%, thanks for the rocket."

Besides the fact that he isn't spending $1.5B on it, really, what can you do with $3B that you can't do with $1.5B? There's really not that many more things that you can do. So spending it on a (hopefully not) once in a lifetime opportunity doesn't sound like that bad of an idea.

Honestly, I don't see how this is any bigger of a deal than going to the moon in the first place. There is a level of forced sentimentality here, as if a painter or a musician is going to see something different from a regular astronaut, because they're just special.

Any time I see something like the level of response somewhere, I can't help but assume everyone thinks they're saying what they're supposed to say. "This is so beautiful, etc." It means I like art. I'm not an artist (I didn't take that risk with my way of life), but I like and can appreciate art which may as well be the next best thing, so I will post the comment saying I almost cried and everyone can know what a spiritual/sentimental/artistic person I am!

Sorry, don't mean to be cynical. I just don't understand how this is a big big big deal to cry over. I hope they succeed and make something great out of it afterward, just some of the comments here seem way, dare I say, over the top.

> as if a painter or a musician is going to see something different from a regular astronaut

A scientist, after years of training, can look at a physical system, break it down into its component parts, figure out how to model each part using mathematics, synthesize the models, and then do experiments to confirm the overall model.

An artist, after years of training, can look at a scene from twenty different perspectives, understand the emotional impact of each perspective on different types of human personalities, can select a few that most appeal to them, and then synthesizes these selected perspectives into one whole coherent art piece.

If you are not an expert at something, then don't reduce what they can see and do, to only what you can see and do, and declare that they are doing nothing interesting.

Don't reduce artists and scientists to their professions?

Scientists can be artistic and artists can be scientific. They overlap.

I like to say I write executable poetry.

Sorry, when I said "scientist" and "artists", I didn't mean professionally, just someone who has spent a lot of time honing their skills in these fields. One person (say Lenardo di Vinci) can be both.

I think you're assuming a lot more intent from my comment than there was. I don't think scientists are better than artists or vice versa. I don't think any two people experience life in the same exact way. I didn't say artists "do nothing interesting."

However, an artist and a scientist are going to see literally the exact same thing when they pass by the moon (barring any medical conditions, e.g. Van Gogh). That's what I meant in saying they will see the same thing.

And I want to point out two observations about your definition of what an artist can do.

First, your definition is limiting. It is overly specific. You can agree that not every artist looks at a scene from N perspectives to synthesize all possible emotional impacts, etc. especially not in some conscious, trained way. And if it's unconscious, people capable of such a talent aren't the only people qualified to be artists.

Second, the definition itself sounds like it was written by a scientist or mathematician, a bunch of little checkboxes describing process and behavior. Maybe you were just doing that to try to get through to me. If so, I appreciate it.

However, I assume this is just how you think. And I believe that this insistence on how important and significant it is to have an artist look at the moon from up close is one heavily rooted in and biased toward empiricism / scientific-mindedness / whatever you want to call it. ("If only I could get a little closer to the moon, to measure it etc., I could properly gauge the emotional impact etc. etc. etc.")

Artists are able to write or paint (or do something in another medium) about experiences they have never had, still with significant impact. Dostoyevsky didn't have to murder anyone to write Crime and Punishment. It's not a prerequisite to see or touch something to be able to conceive of its emotional impact. The same goes for this. It may be the case that an artist gets closer to the moon and is inspired (similar to the idea of a muse), but it's not a foregone conclusion.

> However, an artist and a scientist are going to see literally the exact same thing when they pass by the moon

But only the artist will be able to paint it into a beautiful work that can be a cultural icon for centuries.

> It's not a prerequisite to see or touch something to be able to conceive of its emotional impact.

No, but it absolutely helps.

>If you are not an expert at something, then don't reduce what they can see and do, to only what you can see and do, and declare that they are doing nothing interesting.

Perfect, this is what I was thinking for years but couldn't put into (very good) words. If you don't understand something, don't presume to understand it via "common sense".

> as if a painter or a musician is going to see something different from a regular astronaut

It's very hard to see the world well enough to paint it. Anyone with artistic training will have techniques to see things more clearly. A painter will absolutely see something different than a regular astronaut.

These will be artists who are already famous and have fans and distribution channels and will be able to sell there art for lots of money, probably helping pay for the trip. Also their art will be viewed by many people, so it will impact many people that way. So it is significant in that way.

> as if a painter or a musician is going to see something different from a regular astronaut

The point isn't that they'll see something else, but that they may tell about it better.

Its significant in that it's even happening at all. It wasn't expected that someone would fund artists as the first commercial passengers to the moon.

This may go down in history as the most amazing (and maybe most expensive) art project of all time. I am just flabbergasted; this is astounding. I sincerely hope that the BFR comes to fruition in the way SpaceX has been billing it, and reasonably close in terms of timeline.

This is an "art" project because of the media/domains involved, but it's not an art project.

It's very low-brow, but not the sort of independent low-brow that bursts with charm and zeal. It's too transactional, too structured, too contextualized, and too eagerly public. At best, this sort of big-money, one-off commission leads to the Teleharmonium and EPCOT and the Saatchi gallery, not Schiele or Baraka or I-Be Area.

If this project succeeds (which I hope it does, since that'll be good for humanity's efforts to get more active in space), it'll produce some works that can be appreciated as art. But it won't produce classics. People will forget about the works. The advancement into space will rightfully overshadow them. The works won't inspire other artists, and they won't advance any movements. They'll be curiosities studied by space historians, not art historians.

Many of the most famous works of classical art in the world were transactional and "eagerly public" in their time. The great artists of the renaissance created many works entirely funded and instigated by rich benefactors or the church, and which were intended for the consumption an awed public. But nowadays we don't look at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and think about the politics of the patronage relationship between Pope Julius II and Michelangelo. That's a historical issue, of no importance when considering its long-term artistic merit.

Great art transcends its origins, no matter what they are. Indeed, perhaps art is made greater by transcending its origins, just as it is by transcending the limitations of its form. The art created by this project probably won't be great, because most art isn't great. But it certainly could be. And, if so, your a priori dismissal of it will look about as informed as a contemporary renaissance critic dismissing a masterpiece as just another piece of church-funded propaganda.

I had a friend like you once. On seeing someone just for a brief moment, she could comment for hours, saying things like "This person will never be rich", "Oh, she definitely has bad relations with her husband", "Obviously he's the kind of person that will fail every project". It turned out that most of her predictions that I could verify turned out false. She got some gut feelings and choose to follow that, but the data sample at her disposal was too small and she jumped to the conclusions way too fast.

That's a lot of conjecture for art from unknown artists that hasn't been made yet.

I don't necessarily agree with your point. However, your mention of EPCOT is quite interesting...

I never really thought about it this way before, but Musk in a lot of ways is like late-life Walt Disney. Disney started having some _very_ ambitious projects, which never did pan out, especially after his death. Both were incredibly optimistic about the future, even when it was quite illogical. EPCOT was the idea of building a city of the future, and while it was never completed, it still inspired generations. He progressed the field of robotics, all in the name of inspiring and entertaining people, starting with the World's Fairs.

Schiele or Baraka or I-Be Area ?

Schiele or Baraka or I-Be Area ?

An expressionist painter (now dead), a non-narrative movie-length documentary by someone who still lives, a series of deranged surreal video shorts also by someone living.

The only thing that unifies those three things is that you used them in a sentence together.

Can I play?

Tanguy or Man with a Movie Camera or Dead Mall Series !

Did I win‽

Its an Elon project?

1 in 10 odds it happens?

It's not just about the odds of this project. Missions like these make the public interested again. We might very well be in the beginning stages of a public-private space race, with "space startups" popping up in multiple countries (SpaceX, Blueorigin, [sic] ULA, Onespace[0]). These things can snowball, especially if somebody finds a way to extract resources from the Moon and asteroids.


Missing deadlines by a year or two on something otherwise believed to be impossible is a great way to consistently “fail”, I think.

Which Elon project has failed?

Model 3 still a bit rocky, eh?

Sure. Not a failure, though. I see them on the road almost daily. And I’m in a nondescript suburban town far from the Bay Area.

I'm in a suburb outside a city in Australia and see half a dozen Teslas when I walk to the park with my kids. It's absolutely mind blowing how far and fast they've reached.

Ha. If you were looking to win the "farthest from San Francisco" game, I think you just did.

It is amazing, isn't it? There's no guarantee that TSLA will still be around in ten years, but I bet their cars will be, along with the industry that was forced into existence by a non-incumbent player.

Well technically this one wins: http://www.whereisroadster.com

It'll outsell every luxury sedan in the US in its first year.

If that kind of outcome gets you implicated for failure, BMW must be distraught as it looks at those dwindling 3 series sales figures.

We will know the results of the Thai rescue operation shortly when the lawsuit comes to an end

The lawsuit is completely unrelated to the rescue operation, and the rescue operation was never a Musk project.

FWIW all the people trapped in the cave were rescued.

I would take those odds for sure. Longbet?

Those are good odds in the grander timeline of space travel.

Wouldn't it be easier to train astronauts to be artists than to train artists to be astronauts?

For those missing the reference: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ben_Affleck

Ben Affleck, talking to Michael Bay about the movie Armageddon, in which oil drillers are sent to an asteroid to drill a hole in it, drop a nuclear bomb into the hole, and then detonate that bomb:

>I asked Michael (Bay) why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers. He told me to shut the fuck up

It really is worth your time:


Thanks for sharing! It was pretty good.

Actually for Apollo 17 it was found to be easier to train a geologist to be an astronaut than the other way around.

The Apollo astronauts were also trained quite extensively in geology. Highly recommend the Apollo 12 episode of From the Earth to the Moon for a great look at that.

I guess as long as a high enough percentage of the crew are flight people, you can teach someone else to not get in the way too much?

Or it turns out that 20 years if field experience is harder to teach than 5 years experience in wearing pressure suits and zero/low gravity.

Can you even train artistic talent? Doesn't it require a natural gift that you're born with?

Not to belittle astronauts, but space travel training is more teachable than true art.

I believe you have to have good taste and take it from there. [1]

[1] Ira Glass quote: > Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Sturgeon's law: 90% of everything is crap.

Ironically, or fittingly, I've been reading a comprehensive collection of his short stories, because it was impressed on me early in my life that he was a great author, and I have recently been horrified at how terrible many of his more obscure ones are.

The interesting thing is that the quality does not simply improve with time and experience. There are extreme outliers.

Weird question: I've been trying to find a short story I read years ago, which I think is by Sturgeon. Is there any chance you have run across it?

In it, an engineer is brought into a war zone, where giant tank-like creatures are on the edge of overrunning the front lines. The lines must be maintained in a cave system to keep extracting a valuable mineral. The generals keep pressuring the engineer for weapons, but he wants to understand the problem first. After lots of analysis, he directs the troops to destroy a certain structure. Within days all the tank creatures die. Then the engineer explains that the cave system is actually the inside of a caterpillar on a cosmic sized leaf, and the tank creatures were its immune system. Killing the caterpillar allowed the troops to loot the caterpillar's body in peace.

Ever heard of it? I'm not sure that my memory is completely accurate.

No, it's not killdozer, but thank you for the reply.

I've never read that one, but if it's by him, I should find it eventually.

Can you even train artistic talent? Doesn't it require a natural gift that you're born with?

(musician/artist here) I don't believe in 'talent' or 'gifts', and I don't believe art/music, like a lot of things, is something you can teach (mostly). You can learn it, but you can't teach it. (Botvinnik - founder of the 'Russian School of Chess' (!) - said that about chess, I keep seeing people in different fields saying that.)

You learn it by doing it. A lot. And learning from what you love, e.g. the greats in your field. And you won't do that day after day for decades unless you really love doing it. No-one else knows what you should be working on, or what you love. Everyone's bad at anything when they start. I hear a lot of people saying they wished they played flute (or something), but they're not talented. That myth does a lot of harm. I tell them, well, just start!. It's all anyone can do. Art is essentially about doing your own thing, not willfully, but following what your nature dictates. 'You' don't create it; it just flows out of you.

So I'd also think that space travel training is more teachable than art, for different reasons.

A (probably apocryphal) story: ...a woman once came up to Fritz Kreisler after one of his concerts and said to him, “I’d give my life to play as beautifully as you do.” To which Kreisler replied, “I did.”

One's own path. - If we take the decisive step and enter upon the path which is called our 'own path', a secret is suddenly revealed to us: all those who have hitherto been our friends and familiars have imagined themselves superior to us, and are now offended. The best of them are lenient with us and wait patiently for us soon to find our way back to the 'right path' - they know, it seems, what the right path is... - Nietzsche, Daybreak, 484

>> Can you even train artistic talent?

Yes. 100%. It's a muscle you train.

>> Doesn't it require a natural gift that you're born with?

It helps a lot, but from my experience having parents who can support you with lessons and prop you up well into your 20s is a bigger factor to being a successful artist.

>> Not to belittle astronauts, but space travel training is more teachable than true art.

In my mind it's much harder to be an astronaut than an artist, excluding extremely elite painters and musicians. And I doubt most artists would disagree with this.

>excluding extremely elite painters and musicians

I think that's what they're going for with this mission. Nearly every world-famous artist would be interested in something like this, so they won't be short of options. If you can, why not pick the absolute best?

Best? Who is better, Yo Yo Ma or Wayne Shorter? Bob Dylan or Paul Mcartney or Stevie Wonder? Or Bjork?

Ai Wewei or Banksy or Stan Lee?

Stephen King or Salman Rushdie?

Sorry for getting snippy, but my Point is, art, especially of all things, while it certainly has its quantifiable aspects, is a domain where talking about “absolute best” and “world famous” is not very constructive or useful, imho.

Do not worry, I've got this:

1. Yo Yo Ma

2. Stevie Wonder

3. Salman Rushdie.

There was an anti-soviet joke popular among soviet intelligencia 60-70 years ago.

"Before the revolution, Tula province only had one writer - Leo Tolstoy. After the revolution, Tula province has 100 writers, all of them card carrying members of Soviet Writers Union; so situation with literature is now 100 times better".

- Not sure why they would need to be "trained" astronauts.

- Easy doesn't seem to have any place here.

- It sounds like bringing in diversity of perspective is a large priority here, and starting with trained astronauts would severely constrain that.

They're passengers, there to convey the experience to us still stuck on the ground for now. As Contact put it, "they should have sent a poet".

I'd expect crew will accompany them - they've batted around a 100 passenger number in the past - and it's likely to be highly automated as well.

The sculptor's certainly not gonna go hop out for a spacewalk to fix an antenna.

The point is to end the constraint that only astronauts can go to space, to open it up to everyone.

That's already happened with commercialized trips to the ISS.

for some values of "everyone"

lol.. have an upvote.

i think everyone replying to you just got wooshed.

did no one see armageddon, seriously?

Are they really training to be astronauts though? I understand training for the physical endurance they'll need but they'll be passengers not pilots.

Surprised no one mentioned it already. Alexey Leonov, first man to perform a space walk, is also an artist. He penciled an orbital sunrise during that mission.

I'd like to nominate Christopher Tin as the musician to send.



If the goal is to inspire them to spend their days after they return producing works of art, then your suggestion would likely be ineffective. Had the astronauts wanted to spend their lives creating, they probably would have become creators.

NASA chose to train scientists to be astronauts for the later moon missions:


If monkeys can go into space I think we can send some artists.

You likely could to a limited extent but artistry would not be their core competency.

Not as easy as you'd think.



A genuine Hacker News comment if I've ever seen one

I don’t think you can train people to be artists. You can train people to be better writers or painters, but I don’t think you can train people to have the mindset of an artist.

I have the feeling this should be bigger. This was 03:00 localtime for me and I expected to wake up to headlines about the moon everywhere.

But even here it vanished from the front page. No trends (Germany) on Twitter or YouTube. No top news on news sites.

My "friends" on Facebook aren't talking about it. My twitter timeline only has tweets from the obvious accounts (SpaceX, Elon Musk, …) about it.

What happened?

We've already seen several announcements of civilian space voyages planned for just far enough into the future that nobody's reputation will be harmed too much when the timeline quietly expands indefinitely.

The "boy who cried wolf" effect is very much at work here, and quite rightly IMO.

I mean, the project is cool and all, but it's a guarantee that a rocket that does not really exist yet will not send people to the moon's orbit in 5 years time. Anybody arguing differently is mad. This news is like a Molyneux announcement

Time has changed. There is just too many information now - news, memes, TV shows, music, etc. And this is just another news in an ocean of other news. People are going to the Moon, cool, now lets check out what that Instagram celebrity that I'm subscribed to has just posted.

Elon Musk has evaporated the public's trust in him.

Shill reporters and publications have their fair share of the blame, too.

Citation needed. Elon trashed his name well enough on his own.

Heres the show Elon mentions as inspiring when he was young: "Moon Base Alpha"


"Space 1999" was one of my favourite TV series when growing up. I looked up at the moon for a long while on September 13th 1999 and wondered what the earth would be like if it was missing on the 14th...

Adddendum: I enjoyed the fact that the props used were not traditionally sleek and glossy like most other sci-fi series. The Eagle Transporters were utilitarian and multi purpose. The moon buggies they used similarly so. The space suits seemed to be more modern, yet, true representations of those used by the first moon walkers. etc.

It's worth keeping in mind "Elon Time". 2023 is a "no earlier than" date. It's if everything goes to plan, no new problems arise.

I'd love to see it happen on schedule but I have doubts.

There shouldn't be any doubts, it's definetly will not be 2023 and its not the point. Everytime Elon mentions date, media just takes it for granted and repeats itself everytime the deadline is missed. In reality, if you have only broad understanding what is needed to be done and you can only make assumptions about how long it will take, you still need to target some specific dates and try to stick to them even if more often then not, you will miss these deadlines. In this case its the date if everything would go to the plan perfectly. But we are not living in the perfect world and who knows that difficulties could accur or how long they could take. How you can incorporate these in your predictions? Its very difficult to properly predict big projects and this type of projects are in scale which is even more insanely difficult.

You might want to listen to the livestream -- Elon answers a question from the press about how certain the date is, and basically says the same thing you just did.

When Kennedy gave his moon shot speech, he set out a deadline. At that time, space travel wasn't even a thing and had to be invented. He could have said in our lifetime. He could have said someday. He said in "this decade".

Setting an arbitrary deadline is not a negative. It gives people goals to achieve vs infinite discussion/research. Even if the date does get pushed, it's not the end of the world. NASA is famous for its schedules getting pushed. When's the JWT launching? When did the Hubble launch? How far behind was the LHC? Yes, people complain, but I would rather have them late and working than rushed and not. Look at what Hubble has given us. Well worth the wait.

Not sure why Elon Musk gets so much hyper focused attention like this. He's not the only person to have projects run late. Look at the Red camera system. Look at Black Magic Design. Apple, Microsoft and pretty much any software dev has had to push back release dates. Any HN reader should be sympathetic as I'm sure everyone has had to push back release dates, or at the least not release every feature as scheduled.

Does it matter if it's 2026? Or even 2030?

or 2050 or 2099 or 2250, what's time anyway?

Time is just a concept that distracts us from living life at our own pace.

Am a big fan of Michener and was reading his book Space recently. The paragraph below came up as two main characters were debating sending people to the Moon for a price VS sending machines to the Moon AND Mars AND Saturn for the same price. Felt it was relevant to showcase this initiative by SpaceX as meaningful for it is the beginning of something bigger.

"Man was the measure of all things, and although it was correct that machines could perform miracles, they could not enlist the emotional support of the public. Astronauts could, and he left this confrontation committed to the role of human beings in space, for without them as a measure, a criterion for meaning, the program had no viability."

I also think this amazing! On the discussion as to what dollars should be spent on (tax dollars or private) I recommend listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson who explains in simple and very well [0]. It's mind blowing when you think about it really. Such a small fraction of all money in the world and it often leads to great solutions which we take for granted every day now.

I'm really excited about seeing this succeed and what might come out of it. How will our world look 10 years from now.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYs8TpFzIPI (Here on Joe Rogan podcast)

Impressive- it's a sample-return mission. Sending up cameras to capture photons or sample enclosures to capture bits of dirt is too pedestrian for SpaceX. Instead they'll send up artists to capture samples of space-ness, to be studied by humanity back on Earth.

I’m just fantasizing how it would be like, composing a song on my guitar in zero gravity while glazing at the stars. Whoever gets the opportunity, I cheer for you.

Chris Hadfield recorded a cover of Bowie's Space Oddity on the ISS [1], including playing the guitar in space. It gives me chills every time I listen to it.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

Originally they only had permission to have the video on YouTube for a year.

When word got out that it would have to be taken down once the license expired they managed to get the license extended.

There wasn’t a big “shit show” just Chris’s son saying on Twitter (iirc) that this was the case and they (him and his dad, iirc the son did the editing on the video) were just thankful that so many people enjoyed it during the year it was up.

A few days/weeks later it was back up. Don’t think anyone talked about the deal but I want to believe that David stepped in himself to pull the strings needed for it to stay up. I love the original but dam Chris’s cover is a very close second for me...

Bowie is a genius,the song is amazing and still the number one version for me too, but in terms of art, context matters a lot, and you can't get more context than space oddity being played in space.

Other song played by Chris and the barenaked ladies that I personally enjoy a lot is I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)[0], space related songs being played in space make them much more special to me.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvAnfi8WpVE

This is truly inspiring and I am so happy to witness something like this happen in my lifetime.

Are they actually going to the moon if they are only going to orbit it? Sorry my English isn’t the best

They aren't going to actually orbit the moon, they're going around the moon. It's called a "free return trajectory".

This is actually less than Apollo 8 did (edit: only talking about the orbit): Apollo 8 actually went into lunar orbit with a burn, and then left lunar orbit with another burn.

However, this is using "orbit" in its formal sense. Most people would look at the diagram of the spaceship flying around the moon and call it an "orbit". I'm not going to tell them that they're wrong to say that.

Parabolic and hyperbolic orbits are still orbits.

It is an orbit. They're only making one orbit on a free return trajectory, but it's still an orbit.

It's a (roughly) Zond-7 trajectory.

the reusability is the major differentiator versus Apollo missions.

> This is actually less than Apollo 8 did

But isn't it exactly what Apollo 13 did?

Only a free return trajectory. If they where to land they would have to refuel it which would further delay the mission.

This is amazing and as a moon lover, I cannot wait to see the output.

Odd that Picasso is mentioned in their hypothetical, it seems he didn't care much for the moon (at least humans landing on it anyhow). See lesson 8. https://www.complex.com/style/2012/10/10-life-lessons-we-can...

Also take a refugee and a homeless person from third world who starves regularly to balance things out. Would they, as they look out of the window, find their struggles irrelevant after looking at the beauty of the bright blue blob as it rotates gracefully about itself while also majestically traversing around the source of life as if paying obeisance to it, as seen against a stark black background filled with infinite bright dots that don't twinkle anymore, or would they be heartbroken that rich people around the world are splurging on such self congratulatory endeavors while millions of people like them could have had a sliver of dignity added to their existence had these patrons of futuristic science and tech expanded their horizons by getting real and looked inwards instead and brought some twinkle in their eyes, or would they feel something else completely unexpected? Lets find out. No really, lets find out that as well.

Alan Bean would probably approve: “But I'm the only one who can paint the moon, because I'm the only one who knows whether that's right or not.”


Livestream link of the SpaceX announcement with a lot more details on the BFR - https://youtu.be/zu7WJD8vpAQ?t=1712

If they allow people to vote on which artist to be chosen then my vote would go to Andy Weir[1] (author of The Martian[2])... but then in his talks he stated quite clearly of his fear of flying, so ... :D

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Weir [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_(film)

But isn't exposure therapy a good way to get rid of your fears? ;)

The director obviously has to be Jim Cameron if his health holds up.

Not sure why you got downvoted. James Cameron makes a lot of sense, as he was the first person to pilot a sub to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

I'd send denis villeneuve :)

Thousand times yes.

As others have said, this is way better than anything I had anticipated this private citizen arrangement to be. What a wonderful way to kick off human space travel round 2!

Reminds me a little bit of this: http://www.povray.org/posters/

"They should have sent a poet"

This time they are! First thing I thought of too. Almost brought me to tears when I read what they were doing.

I honestly thought they are landing on the Moon and got excited... I was a bit put off when Musk chose a possibly worse design over aesthetics. Unrelated to him smoking cannabis on the radio show, he always looks a bit high to me. He was definitely unprepared for this event as well.

Set the alarm Yusaku Maezawa: https://moon-countdown.netlify.com

I think they should send a couple great sports commentators along with the artists to give a live play-by-play of the whole thing

This is lunacy on a grand scale!


I almost cried

Simply awe inspiring. A moon shot in true sense.

Fuck yeah!! We need more mad men like them!!

This makes me so happy :)

A more fun art project would be if he sent two animals of many species around the moon.

why did this story disappear? only to re appear and then the other story is gone.. weird stuff

Why would you design a site like this? There’s no reason for the content to be hidden when you scroll to it. Why should the visitor have to wait and see if anything fades in? Either make it a video presentation or make it a proper website. Don’t do this weird mixture that’s the worst of both worlds.


I don’t care what you have to say about Elon Musk’s flaws; he’s the most inspirational human to have lived in the past fifty years.

I am unabashedly a SpaceX fanboy.

Nelson Mandela? Barack Obama? Martin Luther King Jr? Neil Armstrong? Bill Gates? Stephen Hawking? Steve Jobs? Rosa Parks?

Elon would be lucky to make the top ten.

Seriously, Barack Obama? I'm neither republican, not democrat, but you've got to be kidding me with that recommendation. He was a politician, through and through. Yes, the first black one, but aside from that he presented very little that was materially difference from previous politicians. Just being first at something, given the random nature of the universe, isn't enough to wow me. Your ability to make things happen, and change the world - of which he did basically neither - is what wins you respect.

> isn't enough to wow me

I wasn't creating a list of people that wow you, or even a list of people that wow me.

The metric was "how many people did this person inspire in a positive way?" and Barack Obama undeniably did that by being the first black POTUS.

Oh, okay, sorry I didn't realize that the bar was so low to make your list! If that's the case, why stop at Obama?


>Barack Obama

Obama is good with words but other than being the first black POTUS I don't see what inspiring thing he did.

>Bill Gates

Depends on who you ask. Bill Gates also caused a lot of damage in the tech world in my opinion and pushed us back many decades in software evolution.

>Steve Jobs

Who in their right minds would choose a marketing sociopath as an inspiring figure? Seriously, every person I know that views Steve Jobs as their idol is a jackass in some way.

I agree with the rest though. I'd put Musk up there with them simply for the fact that what he is doing with companies just flies in the face of so many modern assumptions of what a corporation is.

None of those people created the Model 3. QED.

Yes I place him up there with any of those people.

What SpaceX and Tesla are doing is absolutely breathtaking.

You can follow him on Twitter: @yousuck2020

That really is his Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/yousuck2020

If I could donate money to this, I would.

Going to look into it.

I hope the musician they choose isn't a pop artist like Justin Bieber or Cardi B. that would just be such a waste lol.

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me

I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed

John Adams !

If only humanity has spent the same energy, vision and resources on what's happening on f-ing planet earth, things could have looked very different...

I believe we can, and should, do both.

Take a deep breath, go outside, get off of social media. Things are not as bad as you think.

I love this project. it's truly amazing.

The cynic in me wonders about the timing of this to coincide with a certain lawsuit by the diver...

This is an expensive, pointless stunt, and all you nerds have you're priorities screwed up if you think it's a good idea.

Life is an expensive, pointless stunt. What is your point?

And yet, you're here, commenting on Hackernews, when you could be donating your computer and time to the poor. Note how the authors stops at 'even millions' presumably, just shy of the order of magnitude of his own net worth. Funny how that tends to shake out: "Everyone richer than me is immoral for keeping their money".

I'm a lower middle class from a 3rd world country and I approve of this billionaire using his own money to help advance humanity's knowledge.

When civilians can go to space and return back without issues, we would progress as a species. As a civilisation.

Data point: I make $24,000 a year and I think this is a great use of money.

Lol. Congratulations on being the one negative comment. I was scrolling down and down with baited breath, but there you were.

I wonder if it’s possible to do anything without someone criticizing it.

What a shame that such a unique opportunity is wasted on such a mediocre curator. This nouveau-rich collector could have sent a curator of renown in his place rather than making the project all about himself. Aside from the fact that he obviously lacks experience or any actual taste, it's widely considered unacceptable for any curator to highlight themselves in their work in this way. The exhibition is and should be about the artists and the art, not the wealth, connections, and boldness of the curator. This will read as overwhelmingly narcissistic in the art context, which means it will only ever be seen as a kind of publicity stunt in the same vein as high altitude sky diving (what if Red Bull repeated the event, but this time the aeronaut jumped from the balloon with a canvas and oils?) For instance it's laughable that he mentions Picasso in the first sentence, as if to insinuate that it is preordained that this project will produce historic works of art.

What's worse, the framing is absurd. What will they make when they return? Something quite similar to what they made when they left! An artist's practice is something built over years, not some kind of instantaneous response to a single experience. Perhaps it will affect the trajectory of their careers – probably unpredictably for having been associated with this bizarre, self-aggrandizing project – and perhaps it won't. To prescribe this outcome in advance of even seeing what happens is boring and totally closes the possibility of unexpected and interesting outcomes.

I think going to the moon for entirely impractical reasons is itself a conceptually beautiful act, but it's too bad it's been spoiled in this way. The story is thus: "rich man pays for himself and a handful of famous people to be flown around the moon and back." Cool story.

To me, the most interesting part of this is the incredible risk that all of these people who presumably have much to lose will take together. The true climax will be when they return safely, or not.

I cannot fathom why you find it so necessary to constrain discovery.

None of us knows what these artists will create after their flight. You think they'll do nothing beyond what they've done before. I think they might be inspired in ways we can't foresee.

I'm pleased those who are in position to do this are doing it. Maybe it'll be a bust. Maybe nothing new will come of it. Maybe they'll all die in a fireball at launch or during re-entry. Maybe the resulting art will eclipse Picasso.

Whatever the result, I'm deeply grateful to everyone involved in this.

> I cannot fathom why you find it so necessary to constrain discovery.

In turn, I cannot fathom why the face and money behind this project finds it so necessary to constrain discovery by prescribing the outcome in advance.

> I'm pleased those who are in position to do this are doing it. Maybe it'll be a bust. Maybe nothing new will come of it. Maybe they'll all die in a fireball at launch or during re-entry. Maybe the resulting art will eclipse Picasso.

Yes, this would be an interesting framing for the project!

> it's widely considered unacceptable for any curator to highlight themselves in their work in this way

So then he's not a curator but a patron. There's entire wings of galleries dedicated to portraits of patrons of the arts.

You make some good points but your framing of art as some kind of system with established rules, more than just heaving out your opinion on it just isn't reality.

Yup, and it's vulgar and deserves to be condemned.

Moreover, museums don't allow the donors to curate the exhibitions, and artists do not mention their patrons in their work.

Art is in fact a system with established rules, which reflect good sense, and this collector is very much operating within that framework, just tastelessly.

> Moreover, museums don't allow the donors to curate the exhibitions, and artists do not mention their patrons in their work.

Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519). Raphael


You have posted a link to a work for sale at an auction house. Perhaps I'm missing part of the context here?

The part where its a painter painting a painting of his patron?

Ah, sorry – quite obvious upon inspection! Yes, I will concede that there was a time when this sort of thing was a regular practice and I could have clarified that here I'm speaking about art in the modern context. Perhaps there are artists in the past 100 years who somehow involve their patrons in their work, but this is quite apart from what we witness with this project – the patron, dignifying himself sans-artists or art.

How do you know that he isn't going to have a renown creator help select the artists?

Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that singular profound experiences can drive the creation of art or change the nature of an artist's future work.

Your cynicism is not much different from those that complain that the immense resources spent by engineers at SpaceX could better go to helping the impoverished.

I don't think it makes any sense to hand over this idea to some ivory tower team that thinks they know better than the innovators and creators of the ideas themselves.

> How do you know that he isn't going to have a renown creator help select the artists?

He has already done half the job by framing the entire project (around himself). Involving a curator would mean allowing them to frame the project around the practices of the actual artists involved.

> Your cynicism is not much different from those that complain that the immense resources spent by engineers at SpaceX could better go to helping the impoverished.

My position would be more analogous to someone arguing that it's a shame people don't use the service offered by SpaceX to attempt more ambitious projects.

> Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that singular profound experiences can drive the creation of art or change the nature of an artist's future work.

I did not contradict this.

With regard to an "ivory tower team," I'm just a bit surprised you would think that any competent curator would necessarily be comparable to elitist academics. In actual practice, the kind of respected artists and curators I have in mind are habitually humble and thoughtful people.

Yeah, well, it's his money to spend.

And it's my right to critique him for the manner in which he spends it, since he has chosen to publicize it.


No personal attacks, please, regardless of how annoying a comment is.

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