Science

Irish woman joining Japanese billionaire on first civilian flight to moon

Hackney-based Rhiannon Adam, 37, who was born in Cork, is among eight crew picked by Yusaku Maezawa for the trip.

A London photographer has beaten more than a million rivals to clinch a place on the first civilian trip to the moon.

Rhiannon Adam, 37,  who was born in Cork and is based in Hackney, is among eight artists and creatives picked by Japanese billionaire entrepreneur and art collector Yusaku Maezawa to be part of the journey.

Ms Adam described the trip, set to see a civilian crew orbit the moon for around seven days before returning to Earth, as “like an impossible dream coming true”.

Crewmates include Grammy award-nominated music producer Steve Aoki, South Korean rapper TOP, Indian TV actor Dev Joshi and US natural life documentary filmmaker Brendan Hall.

Czech choreographer, art director and performer Yemi AD, photographer Karim Iliya and US content creator Tim Dodd have also booked their places after passing selection, interviews and medical checks.

Mission chiefs said Ms Adam will be the first openly queer woman to go to space.

The trip, called dearMoon, is expected to take place next year aboard Starship, a rocket being developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It comes after Mr Maezawa, who wanted to “open up the opportunity of going to space to more and more diverse talents”, put out a call for crew members on dearMoon’s website in March 2021.

The invite drew more than one million applications from 249 countries and regions.

Rhiannon Adam (dearMoon/PA)

Ms Adam said: “Every day I pinch myself. It seems like an impossible dream coming true. I aim to create work that does justice to this transformative experience.

“In the middle of the pandemic, we were, of course, all grounded, which was incredibly frustrating for me as I felt that I’d lost my purpose.

“But then, while idly scrolling Twitter, I came across dearMoon and it seemed like the most epic and life-changing adventure.

“When I discovered that I was selected, I cried, and I’m not usually much of a crier.

“I think it was overwhelming and had seemed just so impossible, and even then it didn’t seem real. It did make me think that perhaps I should have played the lottery more.”

The chance to try to become part of the crew came “in the middle of the pandemic and I was craving an adventure. This seemed like the perfect opportunity”, Ms Adam said.

She added: “I spend a lot of my life working with a lot of remote communities and it felt like a natural thing to do, to apply to go to space and explore the most remote community ever, which would be us in space.”

Rhiannon Adam, 37, who is part of the crew set for the first civilian trip to the moon (dearMoon/PA)

Mr Maezawa, also known as MZ, said: “I had deep conversations with each candidate, asking them about their childhood, why they are dreaming about going to space, what kind of challenges they would like to undertake.

“They are all fantastic people.

“There isn’t a set task for each of them but I hope each and everyone will recognise the responsibility that comes with leaving the Earth, travelling to the moon and back in seven days.

“They will gain a lot from this experience and I hope they will use that to contribute to the planet, to humanity.”

Kaitlyn Farrington, who won the snowboard halfpipe at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games for the US, and Japanese dancer and choreographer Miyu are back-up crew.