“I apologize to those who were excited for this project to happen.”

Diva Down

Billionaire fashion entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa has canceled his much-buzzed-about space tourism flight, citing readiness problems with SpaceX’s Starship rocket.

First announced in 2018, the tourism voyage, dubbed “dearMoon,” planned to carry Maezawa and ten other space tourists — a group that notably included DJ Steve Aoki — around the Moon and back to Earth. Should the trip have come to pass, it would have been the first private circumlunar trip in history.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said of the mission in a 2021 promotional clip that “we expect people will go further than any human has ever gone from planet Earth.”

But pass it did not. Over the weekend, the official dearMoon account on X-formerly-Twitter released a statement announcing the “unfortunate” decision to cancel the trip. Meanwhile, from his personal account on the same platform, Maezawa placed the blame squarely on SpaceX and Musk’s shoulders.

“I signed the contract in 2018 based on the assumption that dearMoon would launch by the end of 2023,” wrote the Japanese billionaire. “It’s a developmental project so it is what it is, but it is still uncertain as to when Starship can launch.”

“I feel terrible making the crew members wait longer, hence the difficult decision to cancel at this point in time,” he continued in the thread, and “I apologize to those who were excited for this project to happen.”

Par for the Course

This wouldn’t be the first time Muskian project timelines didn’t pan out. For years now, SpaceX’s many attempted Starship launches have ended in a series of delays, pushbacks, bridge crashes, and explosions; other SpaceX projects, including its first crewed Dragon mission, have been known to experience similar slowdowns.

And it isn’t just a SpaceX problem. Tesla, another Musk-helmed venture, is notorious for unfulfilled promises and extensive timeline delays. A particularly salient example can be seen in Musk’s recently re-upped — though still very vague — promise that the long-awaited Tesla Robotaxi would finally be revealed in August of this year. Previously, in 2019, Musk claimed that there would be “one million” Robotaxis on the road by “2020.” So!

This all in mind: as Payload points out, other ventures banking on the success of Starship might view the dearMoon cancellation as a tentative canary in the coal mine.

Perhaps most pressingly, NASA’s upcoming Artemis III mission — humanity’s return to the surface of the Moon for the first time in over 50 years — currently hinges on Starship being up and running by 2026. For a rocket that’s yet to launch without exploding, that’s a tall order.

Anyway. Condolences are with Maezawa and his fellow space enthusiasts, as it’s unclear whether there was a refund policy.

More on billionaires and space: NASA Experts Concerned Billionaire Space Tourist Will Accidentally Break Hubble Space Telescope While Trying to Fix It