This article appeared in the September 18, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Fly me to the moon

Chris Carlson/AP
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk, (l.), shakes hands with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, (r.), after announcing him as the first private passenger on a trip around the moon on Sept. 17, 2018, in Hawthorne, Calif.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

Elon Musk announced Monday SpaceX has its first paying customer for a private, weeklong flight around the moon. Yusaku Maezawa, a young Japanese clothing tycoon, put down a “significant” deposit for a flight scheduled for five years from now.

It’s been 50 years since Apollo 8 made the same journey. Perhaps more interesting than the story of funding Musk’s vision of a “multi-planet civilization” or even the emergence of space tourism, is Mr. Maezawa’s spirit of generosity. He’s not going alone. He’s also paying for about a half-dozen musicians, painters, filmmakers, and other artists to go with him on a cosmic art project dubbed “Dear Moon.”

Solo travel can be revealing. But in my experience, travel is far more satisfying when you have someone else with you. Maezawa agrees: “I want to share these experiences and things with as many people as possible.”

Of course, this trip may have more in common with a Six Flags roller coaster than a Caribbean cruise. At the press conference, Musk paused to underline that “this is definitely dangerous.”

Aware of the risks, Maezawa’s starting to gently recruit passengers for this moonshot: “If you should hear from me, please say yes and accept my invitation. Please don’t say no.”

Perhaps you and I should brush up on our watercolors.

Now to our five selected stories, including the pursuit of justice by American sex-abuse victims and by Latin American activists, as well as what horses can teach humans about empathy. 

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This article appeared in the September 18, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/18 edition