September 18, 2018

Hating trains because of "the feeling that I was running along tracks that had already been laid down."

"I could see the rails stretching in front of me — school, university, career. I could picture myself as one of those people jam-packed in a rush-hour train. I wanted to derail myself."

That's the opinion of Yusaku Maezawa, who, as a student at a Tokyo high school, got fed up with the hour and a half train commute. He absconded to Santa Monica, California, skateboarded and played punk rock music 6 months, then returned to Japan to market T-shirts and CDs and enough other things to became a billionaire.

Now, that hater of riding on tracks has bought all the seats SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket's trip around the moon. The ship leaves in 2023. (WaPo.)
The interstellar trip is all part of Maezawa’s grand project, which he has named Dear Moon. His plan is to bring with him six to eight artists from various disciplines, including film, architecture, painting, sculpture and photography, with the goal that upon their return to Earth they create works inspired by the experience....

“There are so many artists with us today that I wish could create amazing works of art for humankind, for children of the next generation.”... Maezawa said his team of artists will be recruited from around the world, adding, “If you should hear from me, please say yes and accept my invitation. Please don’t say no.”
What kind of artist would say yes? Who would say no... and why? You become part of his project, which he has already named. Dear Moon. You'd have to be a group project artist, and I'm thinking most artists are fiercely solitary. But you'll get a lot of publicity, and you only have to put up with being packed into a scary tube for a week. What the hell!!


ALP said...

Artists may be solitary but many in crafts (glass, ceramic) do collaboration pieces at specific events so I could see that happening.

buwaya said...

I would do it.
Even if it were understood beforehand that there would be little or no prospect of ultimate survival.
Such is the call of glory.

If one were to put out a call for volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars one would get millions of qualified volunteers.

mccullough said...

Elon Musk just got another suckers money. Musk will be in prison and that rocket will still be in development in 2023.

jwl said...

Rockets are not reliable, they blow up occasionally, so any artist who isn't scared of being blown to smithereens should be invited. I would love to go on journey around moon for a week, I would say yes if invited.

mccullough said...


For a guy who is very skeptical and likes conspiracy theories you seem to fall for the Elon Musk bullshit. He’s the Huckster of the Illuminati.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The interstellar trip...

Not even interplanetary.


Henry said...

John Denver thought NASA should sent poets and musicians into space and proposed himself.

PM said...

Sounds like something Mao might've thought up for artists.

Henry said...

You'd have to be a group project artist, and I'm thinking most artists are fiercely solitary.

Artists like to travel. A successful art career is all about networking. This is exactly how art works.

Henry said...

Goodnight Moon was taken.

john said...

He needs a geologist on his trip.

Henry said...

The highlighted quote creates quite a juxtaposition with the Subway post from a few days back.

There the rebellious thing to do is to stand on the tracks.

Expat(ish) said...

I will take money, any amount, at any odds, that this flight won't leave on time. Or within 10 years. Or ever if you are willing to specify that Elon will be in charge when it happens.

Of course I would totally go if given the chance.


Chuck said...

So the first work of art is going to be the screenplay (and later the TV series) in which a spaceship with six to eight artists goes around the moon.

In the screenplay, there will be a terrible crisis (probably caused by a corporate/CIA conspiracy) that kills some of the artists and which a few of the artists will survive, heroically, after being stranded on the moon for a while.

In the TV series, they will be stranded on the moon for good, and each week they will be trying to figure out ways to use their artistry to get back to earth. "Gilligan's Island" meets "Lost in Space." They will have a friendly robot I hope. They can call the friendly robot "Elon."

robother said...

I've always thought law is more an art than science. Where's my invite?

How're a skateboarding billlionaire and a bunch of creative types gonna negotiate the profit-sharing without a lawyer. I could be the first true Space Lawyer!

buwaya said...

If it were the Soviets offering to send me to the Moon, instead of Musk, I would have agreed also.

Musk is a weird guy. He is a grifter and a huckster, and he will probably be ruined very soon now, but in SpaceX at least he has created something extraordinary. I have contacts there. For an aerospace outfit depending mainly on government contracts (and that's always been the aerospace business, or the interesting bits) its a tight ship with tremendous morale. They have scooped up enough of the launch services market (>70% as per very recent info) to have driven the Russians out of the niche.

When Musk has to cough up, finally, I think there will be ready buyers for his interests in SpaceX.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, I want to watch Chuck's TV show.

The funny part is that they are all artists.

Reminds me of the novel I just read. Hippies relocate from California to a remote part of Alaska. They don't have the skills, but they have ideas. Unreasonable ideas. It wasn't enough of a comedy though, so I don't recommend the book.

Lewis Wetzel said...

If the United States had never sent a man to the moon -- if, like the Soviets, the Americans chose to spend aerospace dollars on other projects -- the world would be exactly what it is today. Landing a man on the moon made no difference.

mccullough said...


Don’t fall for the sizzle. The steak is worth $3. Musk has made no technological breakthroughs and never will. He’s using 70s Soviet ticket technology. He’s totally full of shit. If his employees drank the Kool Aid then they’ve got what’s coming to them.

rehajm said...

Landing a man on the moon made no difference.

Damn. We put up with all the 'We need a moonshot for_____' and 'If we can put a man on the moon we can____' analogies for nothing.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The interesting play would be to accept the offer to go, but refuse to board at the last minute. If the rocket blows up or the spaceship doesn’t make it back to earth, you’re the sole survivor with a story to tell. If it does come back, you still have a story that is different from everyone who went.

Henry said...

In the screenplay, there will be a terrible crisis (probably caused by a corporate/CIA conspiracy)...

It will be caused by global warming ... on the moon.

buwaya said...

"70s Soviet ticket technology"


Then why isn't someone else using it (whatever "ticket technology is) ?
Its not Musk that has made breakthroughs, its the people at SpaceX doing the old engineering task of constant incremental improvement in the small things, cumulatively, until the polished results are evident.

CJinPA said...

Are they really going to let one rich guy buy up all the seats? What if his plan was to fill the seats with runway models, or oil tycoons?

gahrie said...

Don’t fall for the sizzle. The steak is worth $3. Musk has made no technological breakthroughs and never will. He’s using 70s Soviet ticket technology.

Which is precisely why he can launch payloads into space for a fraction of the cost of everybody else, and is the first person to reuse first stages....right?

Even if you are a Musk naysayer when it comes to Tesla, there is simply no doubt that he has revolutionized rocketry.

Jim Howard said...

Musk always delivers, but he is always late.

The BFR will fly, and will go around the moon, just not as soon as Elon predicts.

You can't say Elon is a 'huckster' when he is launching 15 to 20 commercial, profitable rockets a year and selling as many Teslas has he can make.

buwaya said...

The moonshots were America's cathedral, the civilizational masterpiece.
This is not a practical thing, seen narrowly, but a moral achievement, in the French sense.
Something for generations to say "we did that!"

And to drive them, hopefully, into exceeding the glory of their ancestors.

buwaya said...

"and selling as many Teslas has he can make."

This is not a sufficient achievement, if he is losing money on each one.
The consensus is that Tesla is doomed. He may pull off a miracle, but it would take a miracle.

SpaceX however rules its niche.

SayAahh said...

I can think of many bullshit artists I would like to see take that trip.

anti-de Sitter space said...

It's embarrassing to admit, but I got one of those nerd cars. It is sick fast top-o-line. Still, I almost never drive it. Hopped up Prius sux.


It is cool when it gets a flat. It knows before you do, and then a screen pops up telling you to pull over and wait for the already dispatched Uber. After you leave it, the car will be automatically picked up, fixed and left at yur crib.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

mccullough said...

Musk has made no technological breakthroughs and never will.

What technological breakthroughs does he need to make? What is wrong with using the technological breakthroughs of others?

He’s using 70s Soviet ticket technology.

Do the artists need modern tickets to get on the rocket?

As far as the rockets are concerned, saying they are using 70s Soviet technology is like saying that NASCAR uses 1800s engine technology, because that is when the internal combustion engine was invented.

So they are using an existing concept. I guarantee they've optimized many aspects, improved quality control, etc. Not to mention vastly more computing power and sensor input to improve flight control.

Begonia said...

The professional artists I know LOVE collaboration. Usually they are holed up in their studio or doing their work on their own and they love to do stuff with other artists, or learn how things are done in with other fields.

It's also lucrative because of the crossover fans. Think about musicians and how many "collabos" occur in the music industry.

campy said...

"I can think of many bullshit artists I would like to see take that trip."

We could call it the B Ark.

Leland said...

Come, have guaranteed food and shelter for 10 days. Only requirement is that you must use the appropriate receptacle for pee and poop, since that will float around otherwise.

Still not enough... ok. Clothing optional.

Wince said...

How different history would be if, instead of the train, Maezawa rode on Ralph Kramden's bus and was sent "to the moon" Ralph's way?

Henry said...

I wonder what Musk could get for a walk through one of his tunnels?

buwaya said...

"I guarantee they've optimized many aspects"

They have, including manufacturing simplification, standardization, modular systems, essentially making the creation of space rockets a manufacturing process where once it was rather artisanal. Or they are much further in that direction than anyone else has been.

Think Henry Ford of spaceships. There wasn't much high-tech in the Model T, even when it was new.

The Crack Emcee said...

I'd leap at the chance.

pacwest said...

I can't help thinking oh Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon" when it comes to Musk. Huckster maybe, but the end result would be the payoff, no matter the personality or method. Godspeed.

Unknown said...

The first concussion cut the rocket up the side with a giant can opener. The men were thrown into space like a dozen wriggling silverfish. They were scattered into a dark sea; and the ship, in a million pieces, went on, a meteor swarm seeking a lost sun.

"Barkley, Barkley, where are you?"

The sound of voices calling like lost children on a cold night

"Woode, Woode!"


"Hollis, Hollis, this is Stone."

"Stone, this is Hollis. Where are you?"

"I don't know. How can I? Which way is up? I'm falling. Good God, I'm falling."

They fell. They fell as pebbles fall down wells. They were scattered as jackstones are scattered from a gigantic throw. And now instead of men there were only voices-all kinds of voices, disembodied and impassioned, in varying degrees of terror and resignation.

"We're going away from each other."

This was true. Hollis, swinging head over heels, knew this was true. He knew it with a vague acceptance. They were parting to go their separate ways, and nothing could bring them back. They were wearing their sealed-tight space suits with the glass tubes over their pale faces, but they hadn't had time to lock on their force units. With them they could be small lifeboats in space, saving themselves, saving others, collecting together, finding each other until they were an island of men with some plan. But without the force units snapped to their shoulders they were meteors, senseless, each going to a separate and irrevocable fate.

A period of perhaps ten minutes elapsed while the first terror died and a metallic calm took its place. Space began to weave its strange voices in and out, on a great dark loom, crossing, recrossing, making a final pattern.

"Stone to Hollis. How long can we talk by phone?"

"It depends on how fast you're going your way and I'm going mine."

"An hour, I make it."

"That should do it," said Hollis, abstracted and quiet.

"What happened?" said Hollis a minute later.

"The rocket blew up, that's all. Rockets do blow up."

"Which way are you going?"

"It looks like I'll hit the moon."

traditionalguy said...

Sounds like a Jap Bandit doing what they say can't be done. He needs to take Sally Field with him. And the ship needs to add NASCAR sponsors logos.

Virgil Hilts said...

18 astronauts and cosmonauts have died. I remember Elon Musk saying 6 months ago that there was a "good chance" the Falcon Heavy rocket might just blow up. I also remember watching Christa McAuliffe blow up while the kids in her class watched on a big TV because NASA wanted a publicity stunt to show how "safe" space flight had become. Personally, I would probably go. But if I had my choice I would wait for the 4th or 5th trip to see how things went (to let them get the "bugs out" as my Dad used to say).

gspencer said...

"To me, trains aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went on a train, and the train ran over my dad."

Jack Handy having a Deep Thought on trains.

The Crack Emcee said...

If you're like me, and know you're an artist when you're young, those tracks mean - once you've reached the goal - others will call you "unsuccessful" if you don't stay on them, after you've reached your destination.

I get jealous of Frank Zappa whenever I hear him say "I'm a conservative with a wife, two kids, and house with a mortgage like everyone else" because - I get that - that's when everybody's eyebrows really went up because it was obvious, then, he was the only true radical thinker in the room. The mind that needed to be anchored down, not that is. Everybody else wanted to be Bruce Springsteen, running from his responsibilities:

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don't know where it's flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going
Everybody's got a hungry heart

If I've failed, it's at that.

The Crack Emcee said...

I want off this planet.

Rob said...

Tomorrow's TV footage today:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The Crack Emcee said...

I want off this planet.

Start a GoFundMe. A lot of people here would chip in for a one-way ticket. As long as your destination didn't have internet access...

buwaya said...

There are all sorts of things that drive men into wanting off the planet.

Disappointment, despair are one.
In the old days one ran off to sea, went West, went East, went South, joined the Foreign Legion to drink and die. Its not so easy to do that anymore.
Pasternaks unhappy men.

The other is the perhaps too obviously transcendental. To touch the face of God.

mandrewa said...

The Merlin engine, which is used on the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy is the most reliable and least expensive rocket engine ever developed. What is it? Six-hundred thirty eight uses, and only one rocket engine failure. Unprecedented.

I can't understand giving credit to the Soviet Union for this. They don't have anything comparable. One could argue that they could have done this. But they didn't.

And for that matter the United States built gas generator kerosene/oxygen engines early in the space race. And then went a different direction.

The innovation of the Merlin engine is in its low-cost and high reliability. That's actually a huge achievement.

Their new Raptor engine is the most advanced rocket engine in the world. Of course, it remains to be seen whether it will reliable.

It's a full-flow staged combustion engine and despite the fact that the idea has been around for over fifty years, no one else has ever achieved this. The Soviet Union got a design to the test stand, but they were still blowing it up a third of the time when they dropped the whole thing. The United States successfully did a proof-of-concept on the powerhead of a full-flow staged combustion engine but never attempted the rest of the engine.

It's astonishing that a private company which is spending just a small portion of the money that the US and Soviet governments spent on these things is the one actually doing it.

Landing and reusing the first stage booster is not a new idea, but actually doing it, changes everything.

I suspect that the cumulative impact of SpaceX innovations has already forced the average launch price around the world down about a third, or something like that, of what it would otherwise it be. And further cost reductions are already in the pipeline. It's going to go down by at least another half. Maybe much more.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Unknown@1:04PM Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury. Great story.
This is a brilliant radio adaptation starring William Conrad.

cubanbob said...

Musk is a conman, a showman, possibly a crook and maybe a bit unhinged but he does deliver. His cars aren't prototypes made for an auto show. He might be behind on deliveries and his car company might be losing money but they are delivering production cars. Will Tesla turn around and start making money? Maybe, maybe not. But for twenty years the same could have been said for Amazon and Netflix. In the meantime his rockets perform and are cheaper than anyone else's and are recoverable. NASA could never really pull that one off and the Russians didn't even try nor have the Europeans. As for the Japanese guy, he might be nuts but then again he is a billionaire and is paying with his own money. The volunteers might be crazy but hey, it's their lives and not our money. Good Luck and Godspeed if it comes to pass. Musk just might pull this off.

Yancey Ward said...

Wow, what high writing standards you get at WaPo. Interstellar travel is between stars, not between the Earth and its moon.

madAsHell said...

absconded to Santa Monica

I had to look that up. I always thought it involved theft, and escape (as in "absconded with"), but no you can abscond without theft!!

madAsHell said...

Big Falcon Rocket

I'm not going anywhere on something so phonically close to Big Fucking Rocket!!

Rusty said...

"It's astonishing that a private company which is spending just a small portion of the money that the US and Soviet governments spent on these things is the one actually doing it."

Not astonishing at all. When you don't have un limited resources you tend to use them wisely.

Ambrose said...

He was afraid the tracks were gonna swallow him up.

FIDO said...

first world problems

PM said...

Few weeks ago, the NYer ran a piece on where all the men-with-money are with passenger flights into space. Richard Branson's sub-orbital Galactic may be the first, and most reliable, to go.

Gahrie said...

I'm not going anywhere on something so phonically close to Big Fucking Rocket!!

That's actually what BFR stands for. They came up with the more polite Big Falcon Rocket later.

Leland said...

Interstellar travel is between stars, not between the Earth and its moon.

Indeed, and interplanetary is also not between the Earth and its moon. The difference in time is orders of magnitude. Earth to moon is less than a week. Earth to Mars is about 6 months. Sol to Alpha Centari would be measured as a minimum in number of decades.

rhhardin said...

Tootle didn't follow the tracks.

Edmund said...

We don't really know if SpaceX is showing a profit. There are substantial cross-connections among Musk's ventures that make untangling the finances difficult.

He's the first aerospace company to apply the Silicon Valley paradigm to rocketry - have a core of people that are paid partly in stock options and then hire contract workers that have no benefits. Work everyone 60 hours per week without overtime. Alas, other government contractors can't do that.

Amadeus 48 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJM said...

"His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen."
- Newland Archer,

Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, 1920

Same as it ever was.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Crazy Rich Asians In Space

Sun Yung Moonshot

mikee said...

There are a few iconic images from the moon landings back in the 60s & 70s, which the new tourist artists will be hard put to exceed. That image of a boot print in the lunar dust. The space suited astronaut saluting the American flag. A full grown man, a trained astronaut, skipping along in 1/4 gravity and whooping like a child. The earth glowing like a blue marble in the immense black emptiness of space, with the desert moonscape in the foreground. Dropping a feather and a hammer to demonstrate Galileo's principle of gravity in the vacuum of the moon. The liftoff of the LEM shown live for Apollo 15, demonstrating how an explosion works in a vacuum, years before Star Wars's Death Star blew up onscreen, and obviously in an atmosphere.

Top those, you artists, and impress me!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Hating trains because of "the feeling that I was running along tracks that had already been laid down."
"I could see the rails stretching in front of me — school, university, career. I could picture myself as one of those people jam-packed in a rush-hour train. I wanted to derail myself."

Why do all artsy types seem to have in common that they get broken by normal stuff in real life?